Police praise employee’s ‘heroic’ actions after gunman opens fire at Indiana Walmart

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Police praised the “heroic” actions of an employee and officers responding Thursday to an active shooting at an Indiana Walmart that left one person injured.

The gunman – who police said was a former employee who had been banned from the store – was eventually killed in a minutes-long shootout with officers.

“Last night could have been so, so much worse,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Noah Robinson said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Employees ordered to get in line

The incident occurred just before 10 p.m. local time at the Walmart in Evansville, a riverside town about 180 miles southwest of Indianapolis. The suspect — identified by police as Ronald Ray Mosley II, 25 — allegedly walked into the store, went to an employee’s break room and ordered the dozens of workers there to line up, according to the Evansville Police Department.

A female employee, a team leader at the store, managed to escape the room as the gunman turned his back and called 911, according to Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin.

Meanwhile, the gunman shot a female employee and then pursued a male employee who had run out of the room and “was also an intended target,” Bolin said at Friday’s briefing.

The squad leader returned to the break room when she saw the gunman leave and helped the injured victim into another room and locked the door, Bolin said. While they were hiding there, the gunman returned to the original break room, the chief said.

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“I have no doubt that he went back to finish what he started and that today we would probably have a dead victim instead of a living victim,” said Bolin, who called the team leader an “absolute hero”.

Officers who quickly arrived at the scene immediately entered the Walmart looking for the shooter, while people inside the store tried to hide or flee.

Emergency services work at the scene of a West Side Walmart shooting at 335 S. Red Bank Road in Evansville, Ind., January 20, 2023.

MaCabe Brown/Courier & Press via USA Today Network

Seven Evansville police officers and a Vanderburgh County sheriff’s deputy exchanged gunfire with the suspect both inside and outside the store, in multiple different areas, though the exact number of rounds was unclear, according to police.

“Several times he shot at officers before they could actually shoot him,” said Sgt. That’s what Anna Gray of the Evansville Police Department said at a press conference late Thursday.

The suspect was shot about 8 minutes after police arrived on the scene and was pronounced dead at the store, authorities said. The entire incident lasted about 12 minutes from the first 911 call, according to police.

The injured female worker was transported from the crime scene to a local hospital and then transferred by medical helicopter to another hospital due to the severity of her injuries, police said. She is currently in stable condition in hospital, police said Friday afternoon.

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According to Gray, there were about 40 employees and 40 customers in the store at the time. Police do not believe there are any other injuries, she said. No officers were injured in the shooting.

PHOTO: Witnesses are interviewed after a shooting at the West Side Walmart at 335 S. Red Bank Road in Evansville, Ind., January 20, 2023.

Witnesses are interviewed after a shooting at the West Side Walmart at 335 S. Red Bank Road in Evansville, Ind., January 20, 2023.

MaCabe Brown/Courier & Press via USA Today Network

The suspect was banned from the store: police

The suspect was arrested in May 2022 on four charges against employees at the store, Gray said. Mosley allegedly punched, kicked and scratched several employees and knocked another to the ground after a heated argument, according to an affidavit obtained by TBEN News.

Mosley “stated that he was bullied at work and that he lost control,” and that he “blacked out,” but remembered some of the fighting, according to the affidavit.

Mosley was fired after the incident and denied access to the store, Gray said. Protection orders were also filed on behalf of four victims, she said. He pleaded guilty to the battery charges and joined the county mental health court program, officials said.

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Hours before Thursday’s shooting, Mosley was in mental health court for a battery case hearing, Gray said.

Police were working to determine if there was any connection between the suspect and the shooting victim, other than that they were colleagues. At least one of the workers in the break room at the time of the shooting was a victim in the battery compartment, Gray said.

“Based on the available information, we believe Mosley targeted the employees of this particular Walmart store,” Gray said.

PHOTO: Booking photo for Ronald Ray Mosley II from May 2022.

Booking photo for Ronald Ray Mosley II as of May 2022.

Vanderburgh County Confinement Center

Police do not believe that other suspects are involved at this time.

During the execution of a search warrant, an apparently one-page suicide note was found in the home of the alleged gunman, Gray said, though police did not comment further on the contents of the letter.

The shooting is still under investigation. In addition to collecting crime scene evidence and interviewing witnesses, investigators are reviewing footage from the responding officers’ body-worn cameras and from Walmart’s security cameras, according to police.

“This is a tragic incident. We cannot imagine what the witnesses and employees and customers went through inside,” said Evansville Police Department Officer Taylor Merriss at a news conference early Friday. “But without the courage and professionalism of our department, many more lives could have been lost tonight.”

Walmart told TBEN News in a statement Thursday that it is “appalled by the senseless violence that occurred at our Evansville store.”

“As we learn more, we will do everything we can to support our employees as they deal with this tragedy,” the company added. “We are grateful to the local first responders and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement during their investigation.”

Peter Charalambous, Ahmad Hemingway and Cherise Rudy of TBEN News contributed to this report.

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