Photo: Kroger on on New Byhalia Rd. in Collierville, TN; Photo Credit: Google Earth
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
On Friday, September 24, police identified the gunman of the shooting at a Tennessee Kroger as a third-party vendor. The incident happened in Collierville, a city East of Memphis, and left two dead and fourteen injured.
One of the fatalities was the shooter, who was found in the back of the store. He was identified as 29-year-old Uk Thang. The woman who died was also identified as Olivia King, a long-time resident of the area.
In a written statement to WHBQ, King’s family said, “Our family is devastated by this senseless act of violence.”
The statement also asked for prayers “for all families and friends affected by the events today, as well as for God’s mercy on the shooter and his family.”
Police Chief Dale Lane told officials on Friday they did not have a motive for the shooter, but they are “getting a clearer picture of what occurred.”
Ten of those shot were Kroger employees and five were customers, according to Lane.
“Thankfully, our prayers were answered: We didn’t lose anybody overnight,” Lane said on Friday. “There’s still some people battling, so continue to pray for them, as well.”
According to Collierville police, the shooter was alone.
Kroger also confirmed that he was a third-party vendor, and released a company statement.
“In the hours since the shooting, we’re learning of truly heroic acts that included associates, customers and first responders selflessly helping to protect and save others,” the statement read. “We will remain forever grateful to the first responders who so bravely responded to protect our associates and customers.”
While the store will remain closed throughout the investigation, Kroger said they will continue paying employees for work missed.
Lane called the shooting the “most horrific event that’s occurred in Collierville history,” but said police were immediately on the scene.
Collierville Fire Department Chief, Buddy Billings said, “Our guys did not hesitate one minute.”
“I’ve been in fire service for 44 years … I’ve never been so proud of a group of people in my life, in my whole career,” Billings added.
Customers and workers hid in the aisles and freezers, and one worker was rescued from the roof. Witnesses reported hearing what they believed to be balloons popping before they understood what was happening.
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One witness, Jason Lusk, told CNN he saw people running from the store while leaving a tool shop beside it. He said he heard people yelling about the shooter, but did not see anything at first, so he started walking to his car.
“That’s when I heard about 10 to 15 shots fired,” Lusk explained. “Sounded like they were directly over my head. Very close proximity. Sounded to me to be a high-powered semi-automatic rifle.”
Brignetta Dickerson was working at one of the cash registers when the shooting occurred. She attempted to run out through the back along with other workers and customers.
“He kept on shooting, shooting, shooting,” Dickerson told reporters for WMC and WHBQ. “He shot one of my coworkers in the head, and then shot one of the customers in the stomach, and then my other customer got kind of like cuts because of the asphalt.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com