Collierville, TN – Officials said Monday that the gunman who killed one person and injured 14 others in a Collierville Kroger on Thursday had worked for a vendor in the store’s sushi department but had been sent home from work that morning.
Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane refused to identify the gunman – 29-year-old Uk Thang – during his press conference on Sept. 27 and instead wrote his name on a pad of paper for reporters to copy, the New York Post reported.
“He was a third-party vendor working inside Kroger and was asked to leave his job the morning of Thursday, September 23, 2021,” Collierville Police Major David Townsend wrote in a press release. “The Police Department is processing evidence to include electronic evidence, as well as the crime scene vehicles, and interviewing other potential witnesses.”
The gunman moved to Collierville in the summer of 2020, according to Maj. Townsend.
Neither Kroger nor law enforcement have identified the vendor who sent the gunman home before he returned shooting, the New York Post reported.
Chief Lane said four gunshot victims remained in the hospital in serious but stable condition.
He said there were 44 employees working in the Kroger when the gunman began shooting, CNN reported.
Ten employees and five customers were hurt during the rampage before the gunman is believed to have turned his weapon on himself.
Customer Oliver King, 70, died from her wounds at the scene, ABC News reported.
King’s sons said that the family matriarch had gone to early mass on Thursday morning before she went to the Kroger to shop.
“Our family is devastated by this senseless act of violence. We ask that you pray for the repose of the soul of our mother, Olivia,” one of the victim’s sons, Wes King, told ABC News. “We also ask everyone for their prayers for all families and friends affected by the events today, as well as for God’s mercy on the shooter and his family. Thank you.”
Kroger cashier Brignetta Dickerson told a harrowing tale of how she and some of her co-workers survived the attack.
Dickerson said that when the shooting started, she fled into a back room of the store with terrified customers, ABC News reported.
She said the gunman came in shooting.
Dickerson said he shot an employee in the head, a customer in the stomach, and another employee in the cheek before he went back into the front of the store and continued his rampage, ABC News reported.
“All of a sudden, I went through the receiving department… and here he comes right behind us and start shooting and he kept shooting and shooting and shooting,” Dickerson recalled.
Customer Tawana French was on her way into the Kroger store when the chaos began, ABC News reported.
French said people – including terrified children – came running out of the store.
“A split second later, I hear gunfire,” French told ABC News. “I ran, ran, ran. Before I could get to my car, which was not very far at all, I heard even more gunfire. Rapid succession, just pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.”
“I just wanted to get to a safe place,” she explained.
French said she got into her vehicle and quickly left the parking lot of the store, ABC News reported.
Kroger employee Jean Prost was working in the produce section at the back of the store when she heard five loud sounds that she thought at first were balloons popping.
“I thought, ‘Gosh, she’s busting a lot of balloons.’ And I looked up and I see people running, and I thought, ‘Oh, something is happening, or they wouldn’t be running,'” Prost explained.
Prost said she ran out a side door and around the back of the building with a customer and found a “little brick corner” where they hid, ABC News reported.
She said the gunfire was so loud that she thought the gunman had come outside.
“I’m thinking, ‘There’s nowhere to hide.’ You’re just out in the open and you’re at his mercy and he could just shoot you,” Prost said. “I was so scared I couldn’t even run.”
Intensive Care Unit nurse Sara Wiles was shopping when the gunfire began, and she also initially thought the sound was balloons, ABC News reported.
Wiles said a Kroger employee led her and some others into the stockroom where they hid until police came for them.
She said that was when her instincts as a nurse kicked in and she jumped in to help, ABC News reported.
“I just turned and looked at the paramedics and said I’m a nurse, what do I do? What do you need me to do? And just went around and checked on people, asked them how they were doing and made sure that people were conscious,” Wiles explained.
“Everybody says when they’ve seen this scenario that it never happens in my community. I can tell you that’s true living here for 33 years,” she told ABC News.
Wiles praised the quick response of police and fire personnel.
“It could have been a whole lot worse had it been a weekend,” she added.
Chief Lane has repeatedly heralded the bravery of the law enforcement officers who responded to the bloody scene, CBS News reported.
“We have broken hearts, you know,” the police chief said. “Nobody wants to go into that scene, I can promise you… I mean, there were bloody people running out of that building, and there was not one blue uniform that hesitated.”
Officials have not yet released a motive for the shooting or many more details about the gunman, ABC News reported.