Shooting at Stop & Shop Kills 1, Injures 2
A suspect is in custody after the shooting at a union grocer in New York
On Tuesday, mid-day shoppers and employees fled a Stop and Shop grocery store in West Hempstead, New York after someone open fired at the store killing one and injuring two others. The shooter then fled the store and escaped, kicking off a massive manhunt and leaving thousands of people in the area locked down, including numerous schools.
According to Nassau County Police sources the shooting happened at around 11:15 AM when the shooter, who is believed to be Gabriel Dewitt Wilson, pulled a small handgun and opened fire inside an upstairs manager's office. One 49-year-old employee died on the scene, while the two other employees who were injured were taken to area hospitals. During the chaos, Wilson was able to escape and fled the scene.
A police spokesperson said that 150 officers aided in the search for Wilson which included the State Police. At about 3:15 PM, County Executive Laura Curran announced that the suspect had been taken into custody.
UPDATE: Suspect is in custody. https://t.co/v6dSlciwYG
— Laura Curran (@NassauExecutive) April 20, 2021
According to Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Wilson was an employee at the store. Stop and Shop is a union employer, with about 150 of the store’s employees belonging to RWDSU Local 338. In a statement Local 338 President John Durso said:
“We are devastated by the tragic shooting at the Stop & Shop in West Hempstead. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, and all those, including workers and customers, who witnessed today’s horrifying events. Our priority is and always will be the physical and mental well-being of our members. Representatives of our union are on-site at Stop & Shop and will be ensuring that our members have all of the support they need, including access to counseling. We encourage our members to reach out to us for anything they may need during this difficult time.”
“The working people at Stop & Shop are essential workers and ensuring that all of our communities, including West Hempstead, had what they needed to navigate the pandemic. The last year has been one full of resiliency, but also one of great worry. These workers have been through a tremendous amount and should never have to fear for their safety. We as a society must recognize that gun violence is a workplace safety issue and that as part of this healing, we must make changes to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. We owe it to our essential workers.”
Just minutes after the shooting occurred, the union posted on their Facebook page letting members know that union representatives were already at the store to provide help and support to the workers through the Labor Communications and Education Agency (LECSA). It is unknown if any Local 338 members were hurt in the shooting. “They are very nervous,” said Carolina Martinez, a union representative with Local 338. “They don’t understand how this can happen in a place where they work. We are also trying to figure out, working together with Stop & Shop how we can prevent this from happening in the future.”
The President of RWDSU, Stuart Appelbaum also released a statement on the shooting saying:
“What happened today is something no worker should ever have to face, a gunman in their workplace. We are long overdue for critical and sensible gun reform in the United States that ensures no one ever has to endure what our members endured today.
“The local union’s representatives are on the ground ensuring members have the counseling, and every resource necessary right now. They have the full resources of our office as well. What matters right now is that our members are safe, and that as the events of today continue to unfold we are with them.
“No worker should have to worry about whether or not they will go home to their families at night, and tonight sadly, someone won’t be going home. That is unconscionable.
“It will take a long time to heal from today’s tragedy. Our members have been on the frontlines of the pandemic for over a year, they have already endured too much, and we cannot and will not stand for senseless gun violence in their workplaces. We can, and we must ensure workers are safe at work.”