Gunman Killed 2 at Louisiana Gun Stores
The authorities said Joshua Williams, who went to the Jefferson Gun Outlet to buy ammunition and "flipped out," was fatally shot in the parking lot by store employees.
A gunman who killed two people in a rampage at a gun store near New Orleans on Saturday fired all 32 bullets in his possession within a period of less than two minutes before store employees fatally shot him in the parking lot, police said Monday.
The gunman, Joshua Williams, had gone to buy ammunition at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metairie, La., but when store workers informed him he was unable to carry a loaded gun into the store, he refused to comply and soon started shooting, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III said at a news conference.
Mr. Williams and seven store workers had an intense exchange of gunfire, two of whom were treated for gunshot wounds and later released, the authorities said. When the shooting ended, approximately 100 shell casings and 10 weapons were found by police, three of which belonged to Mr. Williams, according to the sheriff, who released parts of security camera footage of the attack on Monday.
"Sheriff Lopinto said, "I believe, without a doubt, he was looking to kill more people before he ran out of bullets. "I do not know what went through the mind of Joshua Williams."
The two people killed by Mr. Williams were identified by the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office as Veronica Billiot, 59, of Belle Chasse, La., a customer; and Herbert Fischbach, 47, of Jefferson, La., a store employee.
The authorities confirmed that Mr. Williams, a 27-year-old New Orleans resident, had a permit to carry a secret weapon, but they did not disclose what kind of gun he had used in the shooting.
The investigators said Mr. Williams was accompanied by his brother and his brother's two daughters, aged 7 and 9, at the shop. The brother was said to be cooperating with the police, who were unsure as to what had prompted the gunman to open fire.
"He said, basically, that his brother flipped out," said Sheriff Lopinto.
In a Facebook post on Monday, a woman who identified herself as Mr. Williams's aunt said that Mr. Williams had struggled to control his rage. As contributing factors to his state of mind, she cited institutional racism and his poor upbringing.
"Because of a big time anger control issue, he was unfortunately out of control of a situation," the woman, Janice Hutchinson, wrote. "In one of the richest nations in the world, he was the victim of many social ills plaguing too many young Black men who were born and raised in poverty."
On Monday, investigators did not say if race was a motive in the shooting, which they said started while conducting a class on concealed carry permits on the second floor of the gun store. The building houses a firing range as well.
Sheriff Lopinto said, "Those staff didn't come to work looking for a fight that day." "In order to make sure that they can protect others, they put their lives at risk."
At around 3 p.m., Mr. Williams entered the shop. Saturday and looked at his brother's ammunition for about seven minutes, the authorities said. According to the sheriff, who said an employee told Mr. Williams that he was expected to empty the ammunition or leave the gun in his vehicle, the store employees found that Mr. Williams had a gun with an extended magazine protruding from it.
Grudgingly, Mr. Williams started walking towards the exit, but when he reached the entrance, he opened it with his body and fired a shot into the air, the authorities said. He then pointed his pistol at Ms. Billiot, as seen in the security camera video.
He shot at least twice at Ms. Billiot, said the sheriff, adding that Ms. Billiot was standing at the entrance near the counter.
On Monday, attempts to contact Ms. Billiot's family were unsuccessful, but her sister, Linda Billiot, told the Nola.com news website that Veronica Billiot, a military housing manager and mother of three, had gone to the store to pick up a gun she had purchased for personal security.
"Linda Billiot told the website, adding that her sister "had no clue" of the escalating danger, "It's shocking—I'm not processing it.
Next, Mr. Williams exchanged bullets with the employees of the store, hitting one of them, a man, in the arm, the sheriff said, before leaving the store briefly with one of his brother's children. Then Mr. Williams re-entered the company and twice shot his pistol at Mr. Fischbach, who had taken cover, and once hit him in the back, the authorities said.
Mr. Fischbach, who went by the name Noah, worked with sets and special effects in the film industry in addition to working at the shop, building on his experience of weapons, his father said in an interview on the day of the shooting.
Mr. Williams' brother can be seen waving for Mr. Williams to exit the shop, the sheriff said in the surveillance camera footage. In a corridor inside the hotel, a subsequent clip shows Mr. Williams roaming. In another exchange, a third male store employee was shot in the leg by Mr. Williams before the gunman was killed in the front parking lot, the authorities said.
"Once again," said Sheriff Lopinto, "I don't know if I can ever tell you why that happened."