A gunman opened fire inside a grocery store in Collierville, Tenn., on Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least 12 people before he shot and killed himself, the authorities said.
The authorities said they had received a report of a shooting at 1:30 p.m. inside a Kroger store in Collierville, about 30 miles east of Memphis.
The first police car arrived at 1:34 p.m., and officers flooded the area and went from aisle to aisle and room to room, helping injured victims and escorting employees out of hiding. Some had hidden in freezers and locked offices, Dale Lane, the Collierville police chief, said at a news conference.
He said the attacker had died and was believed to have been killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The gunman’s vehicle was still in the parking lot, he said.
Chief Lane declined to say if the attacker had been an employee at the store, saying it was part of the investigation. He said the injuries to the victims were “very serious.”
The shooting was “the most horrific event that has occurred in Collierville history,” he said.
Glenda McDonald, a Kroger employee, told Fox 13, a local TV station, that she was inside the store when she heard a gunshot that sounded like it was coming from the deli. She said she ran out the front door.
“Several people did get shot — some customers and employees,” she told the station, adding that she did not know what the attacker looked like. “The only thing I heard was the gunshots.”
Brignetta Dickerson, who said she had worked at the Kroger for 32 years, told local reporters that she was at a cash register when she heard gunshots.
“He started popping that gun,” she told WREG-TV. “It sounded a bit like a balloon popping. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap — just like that.”
She said she played dead, and saw a male employee get shot in the head. He was still able to talk, she said.
“This right here is not going to stop me from working,” she said. “I’m going to work on.”
Regional One Health, a hospital in Memphis, had received nine patients, according to a spokeswoman. Four were in critical condition and five were in “noncritical condition,” she said.
Kroger said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened by the incident.”
“The entire Kroger family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to the individuals and families of the victims during this difficult time,” Kroger said in a statement.
The company added that it was cooperating with local law enforcement officials.
“The store will remain closed while the police investigation continues, and we have initiated counseling services for our associates,” Kroger said.
The Memphis Police Department said its officers were on the scene of the shooting and “assisting with securing the perimeter and scene.”
Local news stations showed a line of ambulances at the store with their lights flashing, as well as a group of employees gathered in the parking lot with police officers.
Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.
Brignetta Dickerson knew the popping sound she heard on Thursday inside the Kroger grocery store where she worked was a gunshot, as she yelled at customers to “Go! Go! Go!”
As they ran to the back of the store in Collierville, Tenn., a Memphis suburb, the sounds followed, Ms. Dickerson told Region 8 News, a television station in the area.
“I heard him come to the back,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap.’”
They watched, she said, as the gunman shot one of her co-workers in the head and a customer in the stomach. At least 13 people were injured, one fatally, in the shooting, and the police said the gunman had died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Glenda McDonald, who works in the store’s floral department, said she thought she saw the gunman fire at a bagger and some customers as she escaped the building.
“I just ran out the door,” Ms. McDonald told The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I left my purse, my keys, everything.”
The chaos continued outside of the store as authorities responded to 911 calls.
“I have never seen so many police cars, in one place, in my life,” Bruce Pates, 73, said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Pates had entered a tire shop across the street from Kroger. By the time he came out two hours later, there was a flurry of activity outside.
He watched as fire trucks and ambulances left the scene, only to be replaced seconds later with others. Rows of police cars filed into the parking lot.
Manny Reis, 49, was driving to Kroger when he saw a fleet of police cars rushing to the store. He ended up near the back of the building and saw someone who was injured.
“Somebody was sitting down without their shirt on,” he said. “The Fire Department showed up and basically grabbed that person and carried that person away.”
Although Ms. Dickerson is safe, she said she still felt numb.
“I’m OK, I’m OK,” she said. “I’ve been through everything, but this right here took the cake.”
Hospitals near a grocery store shooting in Collierville, Tenn., were already struggling to keep up with Covid-19 patients when those injured in the attack arrived in emergency rooms on Thursday.
National Guard troops had been stationed at medical centers to help cope with the influx of Covid-19 patients, and emergency medical providers had recently issued a dire warning to local officials about the strain on hospitals.
“Currently our system emergency departments are operating dangerously over capacity,” the medical providers wrote on Aug. 16. They added, “We may be unable to provide timely care to everyone and will have to make choices about delivering care to patients based on their probability of survival.”
They expressed particular concern about what could happen in the event of a disaster, given that “the city has no surge capacity to accommodate any additional disaster or unplanned events.”
An average of 96 percent of I.C.U. beds were occupied in Shelby County, Tenn., on Thursday, according to New York Times data. One nearby facility, St. Francis Hospital, reported that its I.C.U. was 100 percent full; another said its I.C.U. was 97 percent full. There were 15 I.C.U. beds available in the five counties in and around Memphis as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Shelby County Health Department.
Officials said at least a dozen people were hurt and one killed inside the Kroger store in Collierville, about 30 miles east of Memphis in Shelby County.
Regional One Health, a hospital in Memphis, had received nine patients injured in the shooting, according to a spokeswoman. She said the hospital had the capacity to accommodate those patients. Baptist Memorial Hospital in Collierville received one patient, who was discharged, and Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis received two, according to a spokeswoman.
Shelby County reported its highest number of Covid-19 cases during the pandemic last month. Those numbers have decreased slightly in recent weeks but remain high, with a seven-day average of 409 cases.
Only 44 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated. Governor Bill Lee recently signed an executive order overruling attempts by local officials to require masks in schools. A federal judge blocked the governor’s order from taking effect in Shelby County on Friday after opponents fought it in court.
The shooting on Thursday in Collierville, Tenn., came six months after a man armed with a military-style semiautomatic rifle and a pistol opened fire in a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., killing 10 people, including a police officer. King Soopers is owned by Kroger.
No motive has been publicly explained for that attack.
In October 2018, a white man shot two Black people at a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Ky., in a racially motivated attack. The man, Gregory Bush, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole last year after pleading guilty but mentally ill to the murders of Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard.
In August, one person was killed and another person was injured in a shooting in the parking lot of Kroger in Sandy Springs, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The newspaper said that shooting had been the result of a botched drug deal.