Before being fatally shot by police on Tuesday afternoon, a man with an AR-15-style weapon and more than a dozen ammo magazines started shooting inside a Target store in Omaha, sending terrified customers and employees running for cover. There were no reported injuries.
An unknown white man in his 30s opened fire as he entered the business. Still, it wasn’t immediately apparent if he was shooting at anyone, according to Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Lauren Murphy, a Target employee, heard the bullets while in the front restroom of the shop, just as she had begun her break. She received a text advising her to either run or stay put, so she hid in a bathroom stall while raising her feet off the floor. She then started messaging her loved ones to express her gratitude. The youngster next to her was sobbing.
“I was scared that this is how I might die at work,” said Murphy, 21. “I was just clutching onto the toilet, getting my feet off the ground, making sure I wasn’t visible,” she added.
Samuel Jacobsen, a 21-year-old worker, was completing a personal shopping order when he heard the fire opening. He continued to work even though he was unsure of the sound.
“Then my coworker ran by, and she said, ‘He’s got a gun; get out!’” Jacobsen said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is real. I have to get out, and I have to get out, I have to get out.’” He hid behind the store, texting coworkers to ensure they were OK.
A customer named Cathy Mahannah described the atmosphere as “sheer fear.” The 62-year-old grandmother was choosing Valentine’s Day presents for her family when she heard a pounding sound close to the store’s door. She initially believed something had fallen but noticed a large group of people rushing for the door.
She fled after hearing from a customer that there was an active shooter. While outdoors, she attended many more gunshots and at least one more inside the store. Mahannah was so agitated that she initially lost track of her automobile and got into a car with a stranger.
“The moments in that parking lot were terrifying when I heard the shots and thought, ‘Where do I hide? I don’t know what to do,’” she said.
Around midday, at least 29 911 calls were made, and according to the city’s police chief, cops were at the business quickly. Omaha police officers and a Nebraska State Trooper were the first law enforcement personnel on the site.
According to Schmaderer, “the first responding officers walked into the building, approached the perpetrator, and shot him dead.” He was carrying an AR-15 gun and a ton of ammo.
Before one of the Omaha policemen shot the suspect, who was killed at the scene, the police claimed they had shouted multiple requests for the man to drop the rifle.
According to bureau spokesperson John Ham, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives happened to be nearby and assisted in getting victims to safety. According to Ham, the ATF tracks the weapon to find out where it came from if it was legally purchased, and whether it has been used in other crimes.
Target spokesperson Brian Harper-Tibaldo said in a statement that all shoppers and employees were safely evacuated from the store, which will remain closed indefinitely.