Two employees were dead when authorities arrived at a Walmart in Southaven on Tuesday morning. 

The suspect, a former Walmart employee, was shot twice by an officer outside the building and was in surgery, Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said during an 11 a.m. news conference. Both people killed were Walmart employees, according to the company. One of the victims has been identified by his family as store manager, Brandon Gales. 

The other victim is Anthony Brown, according to the coroner’s office. 

“These people were doing the same thing you and I do every day, showing up to work in an attempt to provide for their families, then became victims of a senseless violent act,” Moore said.

An officer was also shot, but was saved by his protective vest, Moore said. 

Police first received calls about an active shooter at the Walmart, located at 6811 Southcrest Parkway, around 6:33 a.m. The first officers arrived on the scene about three minutes later, where they found the suspect in the west parking lot. 

After the first officer was shot in the vest, other officers returned fire and shot the suspect, who was taken to Regional One Medical Center, Moore said. 

The officer was taken to DeSoto Baptist Hospital, where he was recovering with family.

Ayoka Pond, a spokeswoman for the hospital, described the officer as uninjured.

“He was wearing a bullet proof vest. He was admitted as a precaution,” she said.

Moore said authorities were still working a very active scene. A suspicious package has prompted a bomb squad investigation.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said he was proud of how law enforcement responded.

“This is someone who had a personal grievance with his employer,” Musselwhite said. “That’s sad enough, but its not something the city should be alarmed about as far as being on top of the event.”

Police blocked off every intersection surrounding the Walmart. There were dozens of emergency vehicles on scene, including police cruisers and ambulances. 

Emergency vehicles with flashing lights were visible in the truck access lane behind Walmart.

Greg Foran, Walmart U.S. CEO, said in a statement, “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of two valued members of our team. We feel tragedies like this personally, and our hearts go out to the families of our two associates and the officer who was injured.”

He also said,  “We are relieved the suspect was apprehended, and we appreciate the quick response of the local authorities and our associates. We’ll continue to focus on assisting law enforcement in their investigation and on supporting our associates.”

Customers heard the shots

Walmart customer Phil Cox had just left the self checkout machine and walked out the front door. He said he heard a gunshot and then two more as he immediately headed for his Chevrolet pickup.

The time stamp on his receipt for Flo Nase is 6:30 a.m.

Cox, 70, of Forrest City Arkansas, said police arrived and he immediately heard six gunshots. He assumed police were firing. Cox said others gathered in the parking lot told him the shooter fired upon a manager of the Walmart, who was outside, and then fired at two other employees.

Cox said he, himself, never felt threatened.

“I think the guy was going after employees,” he said.

Carlos Odom said he was in Walmart when the shooting started. 

“We was in Wal-Mart, walking out getting to car you heard a ‘pop, pop pop, pop … I never thought that I would be around some s***… That s***  was so loud. Praises go up to family of the person shot… One person dead I know.”

Walmart employees and others appear to have gathered in a Chili’s restaurant parking lot of a nearby shopping center, speaking with police. 

At least one Walmart employee was walked from the Chilli’s to an ambulance about 8:50 a.m. Another came out on a stretcher about 9 a.m.  

Several men and women in dark blue shirts bearing the Walmart logo milled behind yellow police tape stretched across the Office Depot parking lot next door.

Walmart employees were instructed to leave their store after the incident.

One employee said there was no indication when the store might reopen.

“There are no procedures for situations like this,” said the woman, who declined to be named.

Southaven Walmart location

Keep up-to-date with this developing story by downloading the Commercial Appeal app here.

The Commercial Appeal has reporters on the scene and will update this story when more information becomes available.