COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (WREG) – A longtime Kroger employee in Tennessee said she thought someone was popping balloons in the floral section of the Collierville store Thursday afternoon, but she soon realized it was gunfire.
“I look up, and I see all the employees running. Well, customers also. This is upfront. They’re running from the front,” said Jean Kurzawski.
The shooting broke out at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, a suburban community 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Memphis.
Kurzawski said she was at the back of the store at the salad wall when the gunman fired. She said employees and customers were running in her direction. She headed toward the nearest exit as the gunfire continued.
“I could hear it shooting louder,” said Kurzawski. “We were out in the open, so we found a place in the back of those buildings in a little corner, and we just stayed in that corner.”
Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said there were 44 Kroger employees inside the store at the time of the shooting. He could not say how many customers were there.
One person was killed, and 12 others were wounded and taken to hospitals, some with very serious injuries. Lane said it appeared the shooter took his own life.
Dispatch received a call about an active shooter at about 1:30 p.m., according to Lane. He said there was an officer nearby who arrived at the store immediately.
Kroger employee Brignetta Dickerson told WREG-TV she was working a cash register when she also heard what she first thought were balloons popping.
“And here he comes right behind us, and started shooting,” Dickerson said. “And he kept on shooting, shooting, shooting. He shot one of my co-workers in the head and shot one of my customers in the stomach.”
Authorities are saying little about the shooter. Investigators were searching the shooter’s car and planned to search a residence.
Kurzawski said when she heard the gunfire and started running, she thought she might not make it out of the store alive.
“I just thinking, ‘Oh, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die,'” said Kurzawski. “‘He’s gonna shoot me; he’s going to shoot me.’ It was the most horrifying experience I’ve ever, ever had.”