Joshua Jamal Williams was identified as the shooter who allegedly opened fire at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metarie, Louisiana, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Williams died on the scene. Sources identified him as the alleged shooter to the news outlet. He was 34.
The shooting occurred just before 3 p.m. Saturday, February 20, 2021. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene at 6719 Airline Drive and found three people dead and two injured. The two injured people were taken to a local hospital, where they were listed in stable condition in the hours after the shooting. Metarie is a suburb of New Orleans.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Williams’ Mother Posted on Facebook Her Son Was ‘Murdered’ & Authorities Said He Was One of the Three People Who Were Pronounced Dead on the Scene
Williams died on the scene of the shooting after allegedly shooting and killing two people, Veronica Billiot, 59, of Belle Chasse and Herbert “Noah” Fischbach, 47, of Jefferson, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto.
“Over the course of the last 48 hours, JPSO investigators have collected over 200 pieces of evidence from the scene, recovered a total of 10 firearms, taken almost 3,000 photographs and conducted over two dozen interviews,” Lopinto said in a statement on the evening of Monday, February 22.
Employees exchanged gunfire with Williams in the parking lot and he was fatally shot, investigators determined. They were not able to immediately determine which gun fired the fatal shot. There were a total of eight shooters including Williams and seven store employees, Lopinto said.
“No customers fired any weapons during the incident,” his statement said.
JSPO said Williams had an additional two firearms in his vehicle.
Williams’ mom defended her son on Facebook, saying he was “murdered” and was not looking for a fight at the gun outlet that day.
“My son did not go into that gun range shooting!” she wrote on Facebook, according to Nola.com.
She added: “Joshua … was fired at by … employees of the gun range and other folks in the gun range! He was murdered! (Rest in peace) my love, you will be forever in my heart!”
2. Williams Was Asked to Unload His Weapon at Jefferson Gun Outlet & Later Shot Employee Herbert “Noah” Fischbach, Authorities Alleged
In the moments that led up to the shooting, Lopinto said, Williams entered the facility with a loaded gun that was unholstered. A Jefferson Gun Outlet employee, later identified as 47-year-old Herbert “Noah” Fischbach, told him he could not have a loaded gun unholstered outside the gun range.
JSPO said that an employee told Williams he could not have a loaded gun inside the facility, and asked him several times to unload it.
“During the discussion, Williams walked to the store’s exit and opened the door before shooting into the air,” Lopinto said. “Veronica Billiot was moving toward the door, and Williams immediately redirected the firearm to point it at her, then shot her.”
He then briefly exited the store and returned, shooting Fischbach, JSPO said. He exited the store and employees exchanged gunfire with him. He was fatally shot and died in the parking lot.
Sources told Nola.com that Williams entered the gun outlet carrying a pistol with an extended magazine. Staff told him to unload his weapon, per the store’s policy. Williams fired a warning shot, the sources said, and then he reportedly shot the clerk, who the news outlet identified as Fischbach. Fischbach is a married father. Others in the gun outlet who were also armed then began firing shots.
Deanna Theis, a woman identifying herself as a friend of Fischbach, shared a photo of him on Facebook.
“This is Noah Fischbach, one of the employees/victims in yesterday’s mass shooting at Jefferson Gun Outlet where I’ve been shooting,” she wrote. “47, father, husband, just celebrated his 14th wedding anniversary. I helped him with his cat a few years ago. He loved his cat. Anytime I saw him we talked animal rescue and cats. Genuinely good guy. Helpful & knowledgeable in his field. Saw him the end of December. He said I needed another gun and to come back and see him. Then we talked about kittens. Such a loss…my heart breaks for his family.”
Heather Devall wrote on Facebook about her interactions with Fischbach at the store.
“Noah Fischbach was my favorite person in this store,” she wrote. “He made my knowledge of firearms and cartridges much better but constant conversations in our interactions buying what we have from him. He will never know the impact he made on our lives and while we didn’t make it in often anymore. We will definitely miss him.”
Billiot was a mother and a grandmother. She was at the gun outlet to pick up a gun she purchased for protection, her sister, Linda Billiot, told Nola.com. Veronica Billiot took the place of the mother in her family, her sister said. Their mother was “not in the picture,” and so she stepped in as the oldest sister to take care of her younger siblings.
“She was a very giving person — she looked after her two younger sisters, that’s what she did,” Linda Billiot said. “She always made sure we had everything we needed, that she was there to support us for everything.”
Nola.com described the shooting scene, where a woman identifying herself as Williams’ mother was on the scene, crying and talking to her son’s body:
Two shields, typically used to block the view of bodies, were set up in the parking lot. A person’s motionless hand was visible at the edge, and a pistol with an extended magazine lay nearby on the ground. In a folding chair about 15 feet away sat a woman crying, ‘Josh, this is Momma. I love you.’
3. Lopinto Said At the Scene There Were Multiple Shooters & Authorities Were Still Trying to Piece Together the Information Saturday Night; JSPO Later Determined There Were 8 Shooters, All Store Employees
JSPO investigators determined there were a total of eight shooters on the scene at Jefferson Gun Outlet, including Williams.
Lopinto described a complicated scene in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, saying he believed there were multiple shooters.
“At this time, it appears a suspect shot two victims inside the location, then was engaged and shot outside the location by multiple other individuals,” Lopinto said in the immediate hours after the shooting Saturday evening. “The suspect is one of the deceased on the scene.”
Deputies said they found five people with gunshot wounds. Three of those people were pronounced dead at the scene, and two additional victims were injured and transported to a local hospital. The hospitalized victims were in stable condition soon after the shooting.
He said in a press conference:
This is a developing scene. I will be brief on what I can give you at the time. We had one initial shooter at the scene, who hit two victims inside the location. Both of them have been pronounced deceased here at this location.
It appears several individuals engaged the original suspect, whether inside the location or out here in the parking lot. We have a total of three deceased including the two that were inside. Out here on the scene itself, we have two additional that were hit by gunfire and were transported to University Hospital where I am told they are in stable condition at this point in time.
From what I understand I have multiple shooters at this location that were either customers, employees or individuals here at the location itself and we are trying to put it all together and piece it together from what we have in this developing scene.
Williams and a woman were both hit and fatally wounded in the gunfight, according to Nola.com, in addition to Fischbach. The woman, who was not identified, died near the shattered glass front door. Williams ran into the parking lot and died.
4. Jefferson Gun Outlet Has 14 Shooting Lanes & Their Website Lays Out Their Policy on Guns in the Facility
Jefferson Gun Outlet is a location that hosts both a shooting range and gun sales. Customers can also rent machine guns at the location. There are 14 shooting lanes at the shop and a shooting range.
“Jefferson Gun Outlet is a full-service retail firearms store specializing in a large selection of self-defense pistols, shotguns, and rifles,” the shop’s Facebook page says. “We have a variety of reloading supplies, holsters, and accessories to satisfy the most discriminating shopping list. In addition to our retail operations, Jefferson Gun offers law enforcement officer, agency, and contract sales for Glock, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, and Rock River. We also have a 14 lane shooting range on site with full-auto machine gun rentals available.”
The rentals also include “themed” shooting experiences.
The website clearly states that anyone entering the facility with a gun must be carrying it safely.
“If you are arriving with a firearm, it must be unloaded, holstered or boxed, and safe,” the website says. “Violators will be asked to promptly leave the facility. Also, our range is for PISTOL CALIBER AMMUNITION/WEAPONS ONLY! We do not offer lanes for non-pistol caliber rifles or shotguns. Rifle Caliber Firearms that are not owned by Jefferson Indoor Range are not allowed in the facility. Jefferson Indoor Range reserves the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime for any reason.”
5. Williams Was at the Store With His Brother & Children to Buy Ammunition & Returned Into the Store ‘Seeking Targets’
Williams was at the Jefferson Gun Outlet the day of the shooting with his brother and two children. He was planning to buy ammunition, Lopinto said. At one point during the shooting, Williams walked directly passed his brother and allegedly shot Fishbach.
Joshua Williams’ brother, Timothy Williams, told WDSU his brother “flipped out” and he does not understand why he fired shots. Lopinto said Timothy Williams has been cooperating with the investigation. The brothers were at the store with Josh Williams’ nephews, ages 7 and 8.
A relative of Williams, who did not identify himself, told Nola.com he does not think Williams went to the gun outlet looking for a fight. He said it did not make sense, because the outlet is often filled with off-duty law enforcement and military veterans.
“That would be a death sentence,” said the relative.
Williams spent the day with his brother and some children before going to the gun outlet, the relative said.
Twitter users were shocked at the shooting and reacted with dismay at the news.
“Shocked. Utterly shocked,” one person wrote on Twitter in response to the shooting.
Another person wrote that they used to live in the area.
“There’s been a mass shooting at a gun rage in Metairie, near where I used to live,” she wrote. “Multiple deaths reported. Holys***.”
Reporter Shay O’Connor shared a video from the scene.
“Here at the scene of where JPSO says multiple shootings just took place here at the Jefferson Gun Outlet. At least one dead,” she wrote on Twitter. “We are working to find out details on the situation. Watch @wdsu at 5P.”