Suspended employee kills 2 fathers, injures officer at Walmart in Southaven, officials say

SOUTHAVEN, Miss — Southaven police have identified the suspect and victims after a deadly shooting inside a Walmart.

Martez Abram was identified as the person who shot and killed two employees Tuesday morning.

>> Photos from the crime scene

DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion confirmed Abram, 39, is an employee who was recently suspended from the store.

The DA told FOX13 he was possibly suspended after bringing a knife to work a few days earlier. According to a police report, Abram got into an argument with a coworker around 5:30 a.m. on July 27.

The victim told police the argument was over who moved the inventory they were placing on display. At that point, investigators said Abram lifted up his shirt and showed a brown and green hunting knife in his waistband.

Police said Abram did not pull it out or make any statements threatening to harm the victim. The victim did not press charges.

Officials said there were 60 employees in the Walmart during the Tuesday morning shooting. The incident began in the back of the store near the baby section, according to officials.

Southaven police arrived on the scene about three minutes after the call.

One employee was shot inside the store, another employee was shot outside the store. Both were killed. Families of the victims confirmed their identities as Brandon Gales and Anthony Brown.

A Southaven officer was also shot during the incident, but he is expected to be ok. The bulletproof vest he was wearing stopped the bullet. He was released from the hospital Wednesday around 1:30 p.m. and is recovering at home.

Abram was shot and taken to Regional One in critical condition.

Officials said Abram didn't have a criminal history before the shooting in Southaven.

According to officials, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation will handle the officer-involved shooting part of the investigation. Southaven police will continue to investigate the shooting.

Walmart officials confirmed the store will be closed until further notice following the incident.

Walmart officials released the following statement concerning the incident -- 

The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of two valued members of our team. We feel tragedies like this personally, and our hearts go out to the families of our two associates and the officer who was injured. We are relieved the suspect was apprehended, and we appreciate the quick response of the local authorities and our associates. We'll continue to focus on assisting law enforcement in their investigation and on supporting our associates.

Walmart also released a statement on their Twitter account.

FOX13 Memphis LIVE

LIVE: 2 killed, suspect and officer injured after shooting inside Southaven Walmart, according to the sheriff. Watch below for LIVE updates from officials. >>

Posted by FOX13 Memphis on Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The fatal shooting at Walmart in Southaven marks at least the fourth workplace shooting involving employees or former employees in the Mid-South in the past year.

“It was a disgruntled employee, you know, it was someone who had a personal grievance with his employer. It’s sad enough, but it’s not something the city should be alarmed about,” Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said Tuesday.

In addition to the shooting in Southaven, FOX13 found three additional workplace shootings in the past year in the Mid-South -- two in Memphis and one in Collierville.

In May, a former police officer and the delivery truck driver allegedly shot and killed the store manager at American Freight Furniture.

In December, the owner of Third Tire Shop in Memphis was killed by an employee. A former employee of IPS Corporation reportedly shot and killed another employee in September.

But the Mid-South is not alone in dealing with this issue.

There were 351 workplace shooting deaths in 2017 countrywide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the latest data from the federal agency.

Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.

Trending stories:

Besides the initial murder investigation conducted by Southaven police, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is also handling the officer-involved shooting investigation.

During the incident, police said an officer was injured in addition to the shooter.

“There’s still the psychological impact for employees and management,” said Bennie Cobb, a retired captain for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

The Southaven Walmart is closed with caution tape and emergency cones blocking all entrances.

A Walmart spokesperson said the store is trying to open as soon as it could but offered no immediate timeframe and to check with the store’s Facebook.

“This was a major incident, an active shooter, two people were shot and so the Walmart may or may not be open back up this week,” said Cobb.

Cobb said while day one begins as reacting to an unfolding crime scene, day two expands the scope of the investigation.

“They want to talk with [Abram]. They’re going to follow up with procedures at his home, talk to people who knew him, trying to find out what was the reason behind this,” said Cobb.

FOX13 Investigates confirmed that, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Abram had not yet been interviewed.

As the two investigations progress, Cobb said Southaven and MBI are “going to have to share information.”

“There’s information that the state has to know. There’s intricate, departmental [information] that the local [police department] has to know, so it’s a coordinated effort right now,” said Cobb.