Residents seek healing as details emerge in grocery store shooting | News, Sports, Jobs

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People pray during a vigil at Collierville Town Hall, Friday, September 24, 2021, in Collierville, Tenn. The vigil is for those killed and those injured when a gunman attacked people in a Kroger grocery store on Thursday before he was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

By TRAVIS LOLLER, JONATHAN MATTISE and MARK HUMPHREY Associated Press

COLLIERVILLE, Tenne Kroger where the shooter worked.

Hollie Skaggs and Sara Wiles were shopping at the same Kroger in Collierville. A day later, after a gunman killed one person and himself and injured 14 others, Skaggs called Wiles his guardian angel.

“The last few hours have been very trying,” said Skaggs, his voice shaking. “Sara and I didn’t know each other before. But now I told him from the start when we went out, he’s my guardian angel. I’m just grateful for her. We ran, we hid and heard it all. It was very, very traumatic. We just ask you to pray for us for peace – and sleep. This is something that is quite difficult.

The shooter, identified by police as UK Thang, worked at a sushi business in the store and was the son of refugees from Myanmar who had settled in Nashville, a family friend said.

Police described Thang as a “third party salesperson” who worked in the grocery store on a daily basis. He died of a gunshot wound he apparently inflicted on himself minutes after officers arrived at the Kroger in the upscale suburb outside Memphis.

The victims included 10 employees and five customers, police said. Some of the injured were still in critical condition on Friday and fighting for their lives, Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said at a morning press conference.

Lane identified the woman who was killed as Olivia King. Friend Maureen Fraser said King was a widowed mother of three grown sons.

Fraser said King was “a little calm,” “a little shy,” but also “a little fiery because (she had) been alone – with the support of family, friends and church” .

King was a devout Catholic who attended mass almost every morning, including the morning of the shooting, Fraser said.

“She was a very generous person and always did what she could to help people.” Fraser said. This included handing Fraser’s family a cash envelope for a year when her husband was out of work. King was concerned that they might not be able to give Christmas presents to their children. Fraser said the money was not needed, but King insisted on helping.

On Facebook, one of King’s sons, Wes King, wrote that he spoke to a trauma surgeon and learned that his mother had been shot in the chest.

“They tried to save her in the hospital to no avail,” he wrote. “I apologize for the graphic details, but this type of crime must stop being glossed over and sanitized. No one deserves this. “

Police raided the gunman’s home on Thursday and removed the electronics.

“We all want to know why,” Lane said of the shooter’s motive. “But today, less than 24 hours (after filming), we’re not ready to tell you.”

The shooter’s parents live in Nashville and are part of a community of Myanmar Christian refugees who have settled there, according to Aung Kyaw, a family friend who came to pray with them at their home on Friday.

Kyaw said Thang worked at a sushi business that operated inside Collierville Kroger, although he was not sure what the arrangement was with the grocery chain.

Kyaw said Thang’s parents were “very upset” by their son’s involvement and prayed for everyone involved.

Kyaw came to the door of the parents’ house at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville. Kyaw said he did not know the son personally.

The shooter, acting alone, did not appear to target anyone in particular as he lashed out in the building Thursday afternoon, police said. The entire filming ended in minutes when first responders invaded the stage.

Lane said the outcome could have been worse, but officers of all ranks reacted quickly and were joined by firefighters on leave.

“Nobody wants to go into this scene, I can promise you that,” Lane said. “I mean, there were bloody people coming out of this building, and there wasn’t a single blue uniform wavering from the bottom to the top. “

Earlier this year, Tennessee became the last state to allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without first completing a background check and state-level training. The measure was enacted by Republican Gov. Bill Lee over objections from some law enforcement groups and gun control advocates fearing the measure would lead to more gun violence.

Lee said on Friday that the new law strengthens the penalties that come into play when violent crimes occur.

“The constitutional transport bill applies to law-abiding citizens,” he said. “What happened yesterday was criminal activity, violent criminal activity with firearms. And these are separate issues. The constitutional transportation law that we passed, in fact, has strengthened the penalties for violent gun criminals, and we must continue to find ways to deal with violence and violent crime and we will continue to do so. .

Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger Co. released a statement Friday confirming the shooter was a third-party vendor, but declined to provide further details.

The Collierville store will be closed until further notice but will continue to provide compensation and other supports to employees, the statement said.

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Mattise and Loller reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press editor Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

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