Detectives are investigating a shooting that left three people dead at a Publix supermarket in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, Thursday morning, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
A man, a woman and a child were killed, and the gunman was among the dead, authorities said. It was not immediately clear who the shooter was.
“This was not an active shooter situation,” Teri Barber, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement.
Authorities said the two victims were a grandmother and granddaughter who would have turned 2 this month. The killer’s relationship to them is unknown at this time. According to Local10.com, Barber said it’s possible the woman and child knew the man.
Authorities say the shooting occurred inside the store near the produce section shortly after 11:30 a.m.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, spokeswoman Teri Barber said investigators are talking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance footage to try to determine what led to the shooting.
Shortly before noon, several patrol cars arrived at The Crossroads shopping center. A sheriff’s department helicopter hovered over the store, and a Palm Beach County fire truck was also on the scene.
Although some Publix employees were allowed to leave the store, it appears that most employees and some customers remained inside for questioning by officers. At approximately 2:30 p.m., some employees began to leave the store.
Officers looked at the license plates of the cars in the parking lot. People were unable to move their vehicles.
Residents in the area expressed shock.
“This is a Publix friendly. I can’t believe this madness happened,” Tracy Green, who usually stores at the store, told USA TODAY.
Publix has more than 1,200 stores in seven states in the southeastern United States. Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous told USA TODAY that the company is working with local law enforcement. “Our thoughts are with the people affected by this tragedy,” Brous said.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the area, said in a statement that the shooting was “heartbreaking.”
“We’ve become too insensitive to gun violence,” he said. “Today we mourn the loss of these lives and pray for those within Publix who witnessed this tragedy, as well as for the first responders who continue to run into danger to protect the public. Tomorrow we must step forward and engage in a very honest conversation. about why this happened and what can be done specifically to prevent this violence. Inaction is not an option.”
According to the Census Bureau, Royal Palm Beach has a population of about 40,000 people. The city is located about 15 miles inland west of West Palm Beach, Florida.