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Suspected Arkansas grocery store shooter was armed with pistol, 12-gauge shotgun and dozens of extra rounds, authorities say

<i>Colin Murphey/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Damage can be seen to a front window as law enforcement officers work the scene of a shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Fordyce
Colin Murphey/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/AP via CNN Newsource
Damage can be seen to a front window as law enforcement officers work the scene of a shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Fordyce

By Dalia Faheid, Raja Razek and Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN) — The suspect in a mass shooting at a grocery store in Arkansas was armed with a pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun and had a bandolier with dozens of extra shotgun rounds, authorities said.

It was one of at least 14 mass shootings in the US since Friday, including one in Ohio, in which 10 people – including two minors – were shot.

The US has suffered at least 247 mass shootings in just the past six months, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as those in which four or more victims are shot. In recent weeks, gunfire erupted at a Michigan splash pad, a Texas Juneteenth celebration and a Massachusetts car meetup, among other seemingly innocuous locations.

The suspect in the Arkansas grocery store shooting, Travis Eugene Posey, 44, allegedly opened fire at the Mad Butcher in Fordyce on Friday, killing four people ages 23 to 81 and wounding nine others.

“The suspect arrived at the Mad Butcher armed,” Secretary of Public Safety and Director of Arkansas State Police Mike Hagar said. “We believe that most, if not all the rounds, fired by the suspect were from the shotgun.”

Authorities believe the suspect “immediately began engaging victims in the parking lot after exiting his truck and then proceeded into the store,” Hagar said.

Once inside the grocery store, the suspect “was firing indiscriminately at both customers and employees,” Hagar said.

Law enforcement responded to the shooting around 11:30 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, Arkansas State Police said.

Officers arrived less than three minutes from the time the first shot was fired, Hagar said. “When law enforcement arrived on scene, the suspect exited the store, and the officers redirected his attention towards them,” he said.

“He immediately engaged in a firefight with law enforcement, where they were able to stop the threat,” Hagar said.

Posey was “treated for non-life-threatening injuries after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement” and taken to the Ouachita County Detention Center, state police said in a release.

Posey is expected to be charged with four counts of capital murder, with additional charges pending, Arkansas State Police said in a news release. He is set to appear in court Monday, Dallas County prosecutor Eric Marks said.

The suspect’s motive is not yet clear, Hagar said, noting that his criminal history is “very limited – if there is any at all.”

It was not clear whether Posey had retained legal counsel.

Victims include an infant’s mother and a selfless great-grandparent

The four people killed in the shooting were identified as Callie Weems, 23; Roy Sturgis, 50; Shirley Taylor, 62; and Ellen Shrum, 81.

Weems, the youngest victim, leaves behind her 10-month-old daughter Ivy, according to a GoFundMe page set up by family friends to help with her funeral expenses.

“Callie’s life was tragically took yesterday way (too) soon,” reads the campaign, verified by GoFundMe.

“With Ivy being left behind this is a great way for Helen (Callie’s mother) to also do something for her future. She loved her child and everyone witnessed her being a phenomenal mom. Pray for Helen, Ivy and family the days to come will be the hardest.”

The young victim’s mother, Helen Browning, is also mourning the death of another victim. She said Sturgis, a logger and a loving father, was part of her extended family, the Associated Press reported.

“Roy was as country as cornbread,” Browning told The Associated Press. “He lived a simple life. He was a simple man.”

The oldest victim, Ellen “Janie” Shrum, leaves behind her husband of 63 years, their three children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who knew her lovingly as “Grammie.”

“She was completely selfless,” her son, Tait Shrum, told CNN. “She didn’t have a selfish bone in her body.”

Janie Shrum was a devoted Christian and served as a foster parent for several children. An avid gardener, she always shared what she canned, baked and cooked with others.

“Love was the key to life for her,” her daughter, Teresa Shrum Crutchfield said. “She wanted to share that love with others.”

Early on in her retirement, Janie Shrum worked as a cashier for a few months at the Mad Butcher – the store where the mass shooting happened.

“When she retired she couldn’t stay retired,” Tait said. “She needed that connection with people, that’s where she got her happiness.”

Taylor’s daughter, Angela Atchley, told CNN her mother loved her family and kids and was “the hardest working woman I know.”

“We are completely lost,” Atchley said.

In addition to the victims killed, seven civilians ages 20 to 65 years were injured by gunfire. Four of them were still hospitalized as of Sunday, including a woman who is in critical condition, Arkansas State Police said.

Two police officers were also shot and wounded, authorities said, including a Fordyce police officer who was released from a hospital Saturday evening.

“I can tell you from what we’ve seen that there appears to be no personal connection to the shooter of any of the victims,” Hagar said. “He simply started engaging victims indiscriminately — just as targets of opportunity.”

‘Mama, pinch me. This can’t be real’

Katrina Doherty was shopping for dinner with her 18-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son when she thought she heard the sound of something falling.

Then she saw glass shatter and someone drop to the ground. That’s when she knew gunfire had erupted.

Not finding an escape route, Doherty and others followed two store employees and darted into a freezer. The 39-year-old mother said she heard about nine or 10 rounds before making it into the icy shelter.

“We ran in there really fast. We still heard gunshots keep going off,” Doherty told CNN. “It was like slow motion. My daughter was like ‘Mama, pinch me. This can’t be real.’ And I was like, ’Baby, it’s real.’”

Outside, David Rodriguez was pulling into a gas station when he heard “pops.” At first, he thought they were fireworks. Then he noticed the grocery store’s front windows were broken – as if they had been “shot open” by gunfire, Rodriguez said.

Panicked shoppers then sprinted out of the store as gunfire rang out in rapid succession, Rodriguez said.

Inside the store’s freezer, frigid customers and employees couldn’t call 911 because there was no service, Doherty said. Her son started to cry, “but we finally got him calmed down because I didn’t want the shooter to hear,” she told CNN.

At one point, one of the employees inside the freezer opened the door, but promptly closed it after seeing a dead body immediately outside, Doherty said. The door remained shut until one of the workers heard police outside, and those in the freezer were escorted out.

More mass shootings tend to unfold in summer months, with July 4 and 5 marking a peak over roughly the last decade. Heat, experts say, can elevate discomfort and aggression – a potential catalyst for violence at a time kids are out of school and warmer weather drives more people outdoors in a country with more guns than people.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Taylor Galgano, Zoe Sottile, Sharif Paget, Justin Lear and Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.

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