2 shot, 1 dead at Va. Wal-Mart distribution center

February 22, 2012 - 4:55 PM

DINWIDDIE, Va. (AP) — An employee of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. distribution center in Virginia shot and wounded his manager Wednesday, then killed himself as deputies approached him, authorities said.

Dinwiddie County Sheriff D.T. Adams said deputies who were summoned to the center along rural U.S. 460 shortly after noon encountered a 32-year-old man standing outside the entrance. When deputies approached, he shot at them with a handgun, then fatally shot himself in the chest.

Witnesses said the man went to lunch at 11 a.m., walked to the back of the center and shot his 40-year-old manager in the shipping department in the leg, Adams said. She sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The motive for the shooting wasn't immediately known, and Adams said there was no evident dispute between the shooter and the wounded woman. The man had worked at the center for nine years, the woman 18 years.

"(It was) just a normal day," he said at an afternoon news conference.

Adams added that he knows there's a sign at the distribution center that states no weapons are allowed, but he was unsure whether employees undergo security checks when they enter the building.

Adams didn't release the employees' names, but said they were both from nearby Petersburg.

"This is certainly a tragedy ... but in a rural county such as Dinwiddie it's very unusual," Adams said. "I'm sure it's going to cause a lot of people at Wal-Mart to be upset when something like this happens ... because I'm upset."

Distribution center workers and family members gathered Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of a now-closed school near the facility located about 30 miles south of Richmond. Several employees declined to comment and referred all questions to Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters in Arkansas.

"This is a tragic scenario for our company, the community, for our associates and especially for the victim and the families of those involved," Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said. He said in a telephone interview that the company is thankful for the quick response from law enforcement officials and that the manager wasn't more severely injured.

He stressed that company employees are barred from carrying firearms on the job.

The company notified employees about 2:30 p.m. that they were cleared to enter the distribution center for their shifts, according to workers who declined to give their names.

County school officials had locked down nearby Sutherland Elementary School as a precaution, and lifted it later in the afternoon.

The Wal-Mart distribution center employs about 600 people, said Tammy Collins, director of planning and community development for the Dinwiddie County Department of Economic Development. She said the 1.2 million-square-foot facility serves 72 stores and has been in Dinwiddie County for 20 years.