A Florida grandmother tried grabbing a gun from the stranger who’d just shot her one-year-old grandson dead at a supermarket before he shot and killed her and himself, police said.
Timothy J. Wall, 55, allegedly took out his gun in the produce section of a Publix at 1180 Royal Palm Beach Boulevard in Royal Palm Beach at 11:31 a.m. on Thursday and shot one round killing the child, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
‘The grandmother interferes with the gunman and because of her brave actions, his gun jams. After some struggling, he then ends up shooting the grandmother and then himself,’ the sheriff’s office tweeted.
The gunman had pushed the grandmother to the ground as he tried to reload, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Timothy J. Wall, 55, of Royal Palm Beach, is suspected of using a handgun to shoot the grandmother and child Thursday morning
A man shot and killed a woman and a toddler inside a Florida supermarket on Thursday morning before turning the gun on himself, according to authorities
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office sent deputies at 11:40am to the Publix store on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard
Bystander photo shows an armed officer outside the site of the deadly shooting in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday, in the immediate aftermath
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw noted the shooting could have been prevented because Wall had made posts to Facebook ‘saying he wanted to kill people and children’ and that ‘the shooter’s own wife said he was acting strangely and paranoid.’
The Sun Sentinel reported that Wall’s Facebook page had been deactivated on the day of the killing.
‘He’s on Facebook. He has said, ‘I want to kill people and children,’ Bradshaw said, according to WPLG.
‘He’s got friends. Obviously they saw that. His ex-wife said he’s been acting strange. He thinks he’s being followed. He’s paranoid. You think a damn soul told us about that? No.’
The 69-year-old grandmother was a retired registered nurse and her son, the father of the boy who was killed, is an evidence specialist who has worked for the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department as a civilian for more than 20 years, WPLG reported.
Police are still trying to understand the motive for the slaying – and believe the shooting was Wall’s first encounter with the victims.
‘There is no known relationship between the gunman and the victims, however, detectives are still investigating,’ said Teri Barbera, spokesperson for Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.
However, bankruptcy and divorce court records show Wall as a financially troubled man with escalating debts.
Court records showed Wall declared bankruptcy earlier this year, with $6,000 in assets versus $215,000 in debts, according to bankruptcy records, WPLG reported.
A row of patrol vehicles are seen outside a Dollar Tree near the supermarket on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard after the shooting on Thursday
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s officers stand outside of a Publix supermarket where a woman, child and a man were found shot to death
Wall once had an office just six doors down from the Publix and had operated a dry cleaning business in the same plaza, the Sun Sentinel reported – noting that his former office now has a for-rent sign on the door.
The outlet obtained an affidavit he had filed in his 2017 divorce proceedings in which he claimed he only had $250 in cash with $5 in his checking account and just $1 in his savings account. He also reportedly claimed he had $15,000 in credit card debt.
When the divorce was granted in 2018, a Florida judge told Wall he could remain in the home through the end of that year but would have to move out. He was still living in the home by May 2019 and his ex-wife sued to evict him.
The Sun Sentinel revealed that Wall was also sued by a creditor but that lawsuit was dismissed after Wall was granted Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Deputies were called to the Publix store on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard at 11:40am after reports that at least three shots were fired.
The toddler’s father was called to the scene to identify his son, reported WPLG. He would have turned two later this month.
The grandmother had been shopping with him inside the store at the time. The sheriff’s office initially said it is ‘possible’ the gunman and the victims ‘knew each other’, but no connection has been released.
Three people – a man, woman and child – were found dead from gunshot wounds inside
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet the incident is ‘NOT an active shooter situation’
Officers stand outside the store. Officials are trying to determine if there was a relationship between the male shooter and his two victims, but none has been found
The woman and child are relatives and were with each other at the time of the shooting
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, officials said they were reviewing surveillance footage and speaking to witnesses as part of the investigation.
Officials will not release the names of the victims, as the sheriff said the family has invoked Marsy’s Law – which protects crime victims and their families. There are also no plans to release the surveillance footage at the moment, cops said.
Witnesses described hearing gunshots sending staff and customers running to safety from the supermarket.
Juan Guardia told the Palm Beach Post he was near the deli when the shooting happened in the produce aisle.
‘I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!” Guardia said. ‘I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running, some employees were crying.’
Ron Glassman, a stress management consultant, had just parked his car and was heading to another store when about 50 customers and employees ran out of the Publix yelling, ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter. Don’t go in there.’
‘It was pretty chaotic. People were very shaken,’ Glassman said.
He said armed sheriff’s deputies wearing helmets and bulletproof vests arrived about five minutes later.
The sheriff’s office said it is ‘possible’ the gunman and the victims ‘knew each other’ but provided no further details about the potential relationship, with none currently found
An aerial image of law enforcement responding to the scene of the shooting Thursday morning
Timothy J. Wall, 55 is suspected of using a handgun to shoot the grandmother and child before he turned the gun on himself. The victims won’t be identified publicly
Customer Lynn Waterman told the Sun-Sentinel she was at a cash register when she heard what she initially mistook for the sound of popping balloons.
Suddenly, Waterman said the cashier announced there was a shooter and took off.
A witness at a bank nearby told WPBT he saw a stampede fleeing from the Publix.
‘I saw about 50 customers and staff leave in, I would say, about 10 or 15 seconds,’ Glassman added.
Publix is Florida’s largest grocery store chain with 817 locations. Maria Brous, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement that Publix was working with law enforcement.
‘Our thoughts are with those who are impacted by this tragedy. We are cooperating with the local law enforcement,’ she said.
‘Since this is an active police investigation, we cannot confirm any additional details.’
The sheriff’s office later stated that the store location would remain closed on Friday. Customers who left items at the store have a three-hour window to pick them up by noon on Friday.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for more information.
Royal Palm Beach is a middle-class suburb home to around 40,000 people.
Marsy’s Law: Created to protect the families of crime victims
Marsy’s Law is a state-by-state law designed to protect the families of crime victims.
There are multiple tenets of the law, including a right to freedom from intimidation, harassment or abuse.
The amendment adding the law in Florida was approved by more than 61 percent of voters during in 2018.
The law was named for Marsy Nicholas, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.
One week later, her brother and mother encountered the ex-boyfriend at a grocery store following his bail release, which they didn’t know about.
The law has been adopted in 12 states as of January 2021.