Tuesday morning amid clashes of loud thunder and downpours, my home town is reeling from a violent murder-suicide in the local grocery store Monday evening about 5:00 p.m.
A male perpetrator entered the grocery store, asked to speak with the store manager, shot the manager with a handgun and turned the gun on himself. Although the details of the encounter are sketchy at this point, it is reported that the meeting took place in the manager's office.
The local police department is located at City Hall, the block immediately behind the store. Customers probably were first aware of the tragedy upon arrival of the police. It is unlikely there were eyewitnesses to the tragedy, although some reports say shots were heard in the store.
This story lead sounds like the makings of a movie thriller, but when it is close and personal, it casts a shadow of disbelief and grief over a small community of 2000+ citizens. This is life and death tragedy for two families, a group of employees and a small community, NOT a movie.
The grocery store is 2.5 blocks from my home. I was taken by surprise as Husband and I were away from the scanner, eating supper, when the calls began.
When an event of this magnitude breaks in a small community, city officials' phones ring constantly. Our community has no local communications, but relies on cable TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in nearby communities.
I am no exception as alderman for the ward in which the tragedy happened. Phone calls and e-mails flooded in. I was busy squelching rumors and dispensing what information I knew. No, there was no one loose on foot.....but you should lock all your doors regardless, every day. Yes, two persons are dead...the store manager and one other person (later I learned the identity of the other person).
While investigation of the incident is still ongoing, a few facts are established. The store manager is dead as is the perpetrator, a husband of a former employee.
What provoked such violence is speculative at this point. There appears to have been managerial differences between the store manager, and the assistant manager, wife of the perpetrator. Her status appears to be former assistant manager, having left her position recently, if preliminary information is accurate.
Reader comments to the local article in The Baxter Bulletin cast some light on an ongoing personnel conflict in the store, but other comments are crude and cruel.
The unemployed assistant manager is now a widow and head of household with two dependents all in grief and shock. She is a member of a large family native to the area.
The store manager was a widower close to retirement. Details of surviving family are not known yet.
How could such a tragedy have been avoided? Does the small grocery chain upper management bear any responsibility? It is rumored the assistant manager allegedly requested transfer to a different area store, but upper management seemingly ignored the request, letting the differences continue to simmer.
Employees carry home their work-related difficulties, discussing their point of view of situations with their spouses and others. Usually, the situations correct themselves in numerous peaceful ways, acceptance, other employment, transfers.