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‘Person of Interest’ on the Loose After Long Island Grocery Store Shooting Left One Dead, Two Injured


A gunman suspected of shooting and killing one person at a Long Island grocery store remains on the run.

According to the Nassau County, N.Y. Police Department, an “active shooter situation” unfolded between 11:00 a.m. and noon Tuesday in an upstairs office area of the West Hempstead Stop & Shop, a regional grocery chain. The police said they were “canvassing the area,” that a slew of area schools were locked down, and that a “person of interest” had “not been apprehended yet.” Neighbors were asked to remain indoors.

Police later said three people were shot. One of the victims died at the scene; the other two were taken to the hospital. Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the deceased victim, an employee, was 49 years old.  The other two victims were said to have been alert.One was shot in the chest; the other was shot in the shoulder. News 12 Long Island reported that one of the injured parties was in critical condition, while the other was in stable condition.

They also believed a person of interest, Gabriel Dewitt Wilson, 30, was either a former or a current employee. He is said to have used a “small handgun,” ABC News reported.

Long Island Stop & Shop Shooter

Gabriel Dewitt Wilson. Image via the Nassau County, N.Y. Police Department.

Early reports suggested Wilson may have been headed west by bus. Later, however, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran debunked those reports by telling News 12 Long Island that Wilson was not traveling by “public bus.” Either way, authorities believe Wilson is wearing a black baseball hat and a black sweatshirt.

“I was in the store in the produce department, minding my business, doing my weekly shopping, and I heard what sounded like gun shots, but I never thought that anything like that would happen in the store, so I assumed it was something that just fell over in the service area,” one shopper told New York City ABC affiliate WABC-TV.

“We are closely monitoring the ongoing situation in West Hempstead, where multiple people have been shot, and at least one person has been killed, at a grocery store,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, A Democrat. “The New York State Police has been directed to assist local authorities in their search for the perpetrator, and my team and I are in constant contact with first responders on the ground. I’m praying for the victims, and my heart breaks for their families and loved ones.”

Many, if not all, Stop & Shop grocery stores are staffed with union labor. The president of the local chapter of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/United Food and Commercial Workers addressed the shooting at length in an afternoon tweet.

“We are devastated by the tragic shooting at the Stop & Shop in West Hempstead,” said John Durso, the President of Local 338. “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 ensured that all of our communities, including West Hempstead, had what they needed to navigate the pandemic,” he continued. “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.”

“We are shocked and heartbroken by this act of violence,” said Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid in a statement obtained by ABC News. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, our associates, customers and the first responders who have responded heroically to this tragic situation . . . [a]t this time, we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement on the investigation. The store will remain closed until further notice, and we appreciate the Long Island community’s support during this difficult time.”

[image via screen capture from News 12 Long Island]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.