COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — Police on Friday identified the gunman who killed one person and wounded 14 others in a Tennessee grocery store as UK Thang.
The 29-year-old worked in a sushi business at the store and was the son of refugees from Myanmar who had settled in Nashville, a family friend told The Associated Press Friday. Police called him a “third-party vendor” who worked at the Kroger in Collierville on a daily basis.
Thang died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound within a couple of minutes of police arriving at the Kroger Thursday in the upscale suburb 30 miles east of Memphis.
The victims included 10 employees and five customers, police said. On Saturday, two of the victims were in critical condition.
“My heart’s broken for the victims here,” he said.
Lane identified the woman who was killed as Olivia King. Friends told The Commercial Appeal she was a widowed mother of three.
On Facebook, one of King’s sons, Wes King, wrote that he had spoken to the trauma surgeon and learned his mother was shot in the chest.
“They tried to save her at the hospital to no avail,” he wrote. “I apologize for the graphic details, but this type of crime needs to stop being glossed over and sanitized. No one deserves this.”
Police searched the shooter’s home Thursday and removed electronic devices.
“We all want to know the why,” Lane said of the shooter’s motive. “But today, less than 24 hours (after the shooting), we’re not ready to tell you that.”
The shooter, acting alone, did not appear to target anyone specifically as he rampaged through the building on a sunny Thursday afternoon, police said. The entire shooting was over within minutes as first responders swarmed the scene.
Lane said the outcome could have been worse. Police received a call around 1:30 p.m. about the shooting and arrived almost immediately, finding multiple people with gunshot wounds upon entering the building, he said.
He said officers of every rank ran into the building and were joined by off-duty firefighters.
“Nobody wants to go into that scene, I can promise you,” Lane said. “I mean, there were bloody people running out of that building, and there was not one blue uniform that hesitated, from the bottom all the way up. We’re in there trying to help.”
Collierville Fire Department Chief Buddy Billings said the department had purchased ballistic gear three years ago and began training for a situation like this. He credited that training and equipment with saving lives.
“People will reflect back and say ‘Where were you when the Kroger shooting happened?’” Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner said.
Kroger released a new statement on the incident Friday, saying they are continuing to pay employees while the store remains closed.
“We are horrified and heartbroken over the senseless violence that occurred yesterday at the Kroger store located on New Byhalia Rd. in Collierville, TN, resulting in the death of one customer as well as the assailant and injuries to several other individuals, including 10 of our associates and five customers. In the hours since the shooting, we’re learning of truly heroic acts that included associates, customers and first responders selflessly helping to protect and save others. We will remain forever grateful to the first responders who so bravely responded to protect our associates and customers. The entire Kroger family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to those impacted by this tragedy, including our associates, customers and first responders, and their families. The store will remain closed while law enforcement completes their investigation. We are continuing to provide our associates with pay as well as support through our Helping Hands fund. We’ve also initiated counseling services for our associates. Lastly, to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we continue to refer questions to the Collierville Police Department, but can confirm the identified suspect was a third-party vendor.”KROGER SPOKESPERSON
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WREG contributed to this report.