A “troubled employee” who killed a supermarket manager and injured two of his staff was asked to be relocated from his Long Island store 40 minutes before the fire opened, police said Wednesday.
But it was still not immediately clear what might have caused suspect Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, to take deadly steps at a customer-filled Stop & Shop late Tuesday morning in West Hempstead, Nassau County Police write.
Ray Wishropp, a 49-year-old leader of Valley Stream, was shot dead with a .387-caliber semi-automatic pistol, authorities said.
Wilson fired seven people at five men, hitting Wishropp, a 50-year-old man from bethpage and a 26-year-old woman from Bayshore, officials said. The wounded was grazed on his face and beaten twice in the shoulder. The woman was hit once on the shoulder, police said.
Before the shot broke out in the second-floor executive’s office, Wilson was in just that place and asked to be transferred to another Stop & Shop location in Hempstead, the Nassau County Police Det. Lieutenant Stephen Fitzpatrick said.
“It wasn’t confrontational at the time,” Fitzpatrick told reporters on Wednesday. “He left the building without violence or anything else. Forty minutes later he returned to the building and you know the rest. He went up to the offices, opened fire on five people.”
Obviously, there was no indication that Wilson’s transfer request would be disputed or rejected.
“They said the (Hempstead) manager would call him (West Hempstead’s managers),” Fitzpatrick said. “He (Wilson) had to fill out a form and it happens. It was uneventful.”
Wilson, who worked as a shopping cart collector, raised ongoing issues with his staff and was led on several occasions to discussions with executives, police said.
“Gabriel was a troubled employee and made unwanted progress toward the females working there in the months leading up to the incident,” Fitzpatrick said. “He had disputes with other employees and threatened them and was taken to the management office several times.”
Representatives of the unions representing the workers working in that Stop & Shop were not able to speak immediately on Wednesday.
The suspect was arrested at a nearby tenement house on Terrance Avenue in Hempstead. The weapon used in Tuesday’s shooting was not found immediately.
“Investigators are just outside and reversing his steps and trying … to find the gun,” Fitzpatrick said.
Wilson has been charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, said Madeline Singas, Nassau County District Attorney. If convicted of all charges, he could serve up to 25 years in prison, according to the DA.
No guilty charges were filed on his behalf during a trial on Wednesday, NBC New York reported. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, according to the news station.
The store is expected to be closed until Sunday morning as police continue the investigation there.