METAIRIE, La. (NewsNation Now) — A person went into a gun store and shooting range in a New Orleans suburb and fatally shot two people Saturday, causing customers and staff to open fire on the shooter, authorities said.
The suspected gunman Joshua Jamal Williams, 27, was shot and killed during the incident.
In a statement, Jefferson Parish Sherriff’s Officce said officers responded to a call shortly before 3 p.m. at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in the suburb of Metarie.
Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said the shooter initially struck two people inside, and then several other people — whether employees or store customers — opened fire on the shooter, both inside and outside of the building.
Upon arrival, deputies found several victims suffering from gunshot wounds, JPSO said in a statement Saturday. Three people were pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were also hit by gunfire and were hospitalized in stable condition, officials said.
“At this time, it appears a suspect shot 2 victims inside the location, then was engaged and shot outside the location by multiple other individuals.” JPSO said.
Outside the building a man could be seen afterwards behind the yellow police tape yelling “Where is my son?”
Guns and ammunition are sold in the front of the outlet that faces a main thoroughfare through Jefferson Parish. Customers who want to frequent the gun range generally go around to the side entrance of the building. Staff who work there often wear a sidearm.
Lopinto said there were multiple shooters in all and investigators had just begun trying to piece together what had happened.
“We’re trying to put it all together, piece it together,” the sheriff said.
Caution tape surrounded the business to keep onlookers from getting close to the scene, where ambulances and numerous law enforcement vehicles had converged. A neighboring Taco Bell had been evacuated.
None of the dead or wounded were immediately identified and details remained unclear.
Tyrone Russell and Wanetta Joseph were both in a conceal-and-carry course at the store when they heard what they both described as rapid firing. They said the gunfire sounded much louder than the usual muffled shooting that they are used to hearing inside the shooting range.
“We heard the gunshots and the screaming,” said Russell. “When the police came, they escorted us out. I could see glass everywhere … It was just like a really scary scene.”
“It got extremely loud, like a bomb almost,” said Joseph, who hid with other students under a table — not knowing if there were multiple shooters or if one was near the classroom. One instructor stayed with the students while two others left the room and headed toward the sound of gunfire.
Russell said that when he was led out, he could see a guy “laid out” in the parking lot not far from his car, which was struck by bullets. He described seeing shattered glass, bullet casings strewn about the store.
Authorities remained at the scene as night fell.
Metairie is a major suburb of New Orleans, about 5 miles west of the city’s iconic French Quarter, in the neighboring jurisdiction of Jefferson Parish.