Gabriel DeWitt Wilson was identified as the person of interest sought in the West Hempstead shooting of three people at a Long Island Stop & Shop grocery store on April 20, 2021.
“The Person of Interest involved is Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, age 30. He is approx. 6’2″ & wearing a black baseball hat and a black sweatshirt, & was last seen heading westbound on Hempstead Turnpike. Please call 911 immediately if you have any information,” the Nassau County Police Department wrote on Twitter.
The Nassau County police and the county executive confirmed the shooting midday on April 20, 2020. It comes as the country reels from a series of mass shootings.
Stop & Shop is a popular grocery store.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement: “As the union for the brave New York grocery workers caught in the crossfire of this horrific shooting, UFCW is heartbroken and our prayers are with our members, their families, and the loved ones of all the victims. America’s grocery workers have been bravely putting their health at risk on the frontlines of COVID-19 every day to keep our families fed. This latest mass shooting is a tragic reminder that the pandemic is not the only threat these workers face. While we have rightfully focused on doing more to protect essential workers from the risks of the pandemic, more must be done by our corporate and elected leaders to address the epidemic of gun violence that threatens workers’ lives, and continues to infect more and more workplaces.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The County Executive & Police Called It an ‘Active Shooter’ Incident
Authorities labeled the shooting as an active shooter incident.
Nassau County Police wrote: “There has been an active shooter situation at the West Hempstead Stop & Shop. The #NassauCountyPD is canvassing the area & nearby schools have been notified to lock down & secure their buildings. The subject has not been apprehended yet & we ask that area residents remain indoors.”
Laura Curran, the Nassau County Executive, imparted a similar message on Twitter, “There has been an active shooter incident at the West Hempstead Stop & Shop. Police are canvassing the area & schools nearby have been notified to lock down and secure their buildings. @NassauCountyPD is asking all area residents to remain indoors. Suspect is not yet apprehended.”
2. Police Say Three People Were Shot & One Died
According to NBC New York, three people were shot and one person is deceased.
Police later confirmed that report, writing that they “can confirm that 3 people were shot inside the West Hempstead Stop & Shop; 2 are in the hospital & there was one fatality.”
According to the New York Daily News, the deceased victim is a 49-year-old employee of the store.
The supermarket is located on Cherry Valley Road. According to ABC New York, the grocery store was evacuated.
3. The Suspect, Wearing All Black, May Have Jumped on a Bus
The suspect is believed to be at large and may have jumped on a bus to get away, according to NBC New York.
The suspect’s motive is not yet clear. Police have not said whether the shooting was a targeted or random attack.
CBS New York reported the suspect was wearing all black and a mask.
4. Reports Say the Suspect Is a Former or Current Employee Who Opened Fire in an Upstairs Managers’ Office
The New York Daily News reported that Wilson, “was inside an upstairs managers office when he pulled a small handgun and opened fire.”
The victims’ names are not known.
The News 12 chopper was live above the scene. Police officers could be seen outside the store’s door.
5. The West Hempstead School District Was in a Lock Out
The West Hempstead School District wrote on Twitter: “Good morning. This is a message from the West Hempstead School District. We were informed by the police that there is activity in the area. We are presently in a lockout and we’ll inform you when it is over. Please do not come to the buildings. Everyone is safe. Thank you.”
The shooting reports come as the nation is reeling from a series of mass shootings, including at a tavern in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and spas in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
People expressed shock on social media. “wtf the stop and shop in West Hempstead just got shot up .. that’s too close to home,” wrote one person on Twitter. “Active shooter shot 3 people 2 blocks from my house on long island. One dead. Shooter on the run. Stop and shop West hempstead,” wrote another.
The conditions of the injured people are not yet clear, but they were taken to the hospital.