The suspect in the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of two others at a gun store in Louisiana was asked to unload a firearm shortly before he opened fire, authorities said Monday.
Deputies were called to the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metairie just before 3 p.m. Saturday, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto III said over the weekend.
Metairie is just a few miles northwest of New Orleans.
Lopinto said Monday that the suspect, Joshua Williams, entered the gun store with his brother and two children to buy ammunition.
Lopinto said that while inside the store, employees noticed Williams was carrying a loaded firearm with a visible magazine. Employees asked Williams to unload the weapon before having it in the store, as is store policy.
Authorities say Williams went to the front door and fired one shot into the air, before turning around and shooting 59-year-old Veronica Billiot twice, who was moving toward the door. Billiot, a store customer, died at the scene.
Williams then turned and engaged in gunfire with store employees before briefly exiting the store.
He reentered the store, where he fatally shot 47-year-old Noah Fischbach, a store employee, authorities said. Williams then walked toward the gun range before exiting the store through the front door again, where he was shot and killed while exchanging gunfire with other store employees.
Lopinto said there were eight shooters at the gun store — seven employees and Williams. Ten firearms were recovered at the scene, including two that were recovered from the suspect’s vehicle.
The action of the employees possibly saved lives, Lopinto said, as a concealed carry class was going on upstairs at the store. Authorities released video of the incident.
“Those employees did not come to work looking for a fight that day. They were put into a decision-making process that they did not ask for. But they acted calm, collectively and really protected a lot of people that day,” he said.
The two injured people were transported to University Medical Center and are in stable condition, according to Lopinto. It appears the people involved in the shooting may have been customers, employees or individuals at the location, he said.
The New Orleans office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has special agents working the scene, the agency tweeted.