The man who was fatally shot by police after entering a Target store in Omaha, Nebraska, armed with an AR-15-style rifle had obtained the weapon just four days earlier at a Cabela’s sporting goods store, police said Wednesday. No one else was hurt.
Court records show that the man, identified by police as Joseph Jones, 32, of suburban Omaha, had no prior felony convictions in Douglas County, where Omaha is located.
He entered the store around noon Tuesday, where police said he fired several rounds, sending shoppers and workers scrambling for exits and cowering in bathroom stalls. Along with the rifle, he had 13 loaded rifle magazines of ammunition.
Callers flooded 911 dispatchers with around 30 calls for help, and Omaha police officers and a Nebraska State Trooper rushed to the scene. They quickly encountered Jones and ordered him to drop the rifle.
Police said Officer Brian Vanderheiden, a 20-year veteran of the city’s police force, then fired, striking and killing Jones.
The release said Vanderheiden was placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.
Officers searched the store three times before declaring the scene safe, according to police. Through the investigation, officers located bullet casings inside the store.
Several other shootings have taken place at stores across the country in recent months, at a time when mass shootings have commanded public attention on a disturbingly frequent basis.
In January, one woman was injured in a shooting at a Walmart store in Evansville, Indiana. Police said it could have been much worse if not for heroic actions by an employee and police. Officers arrived within minutes and fatally shot the gunman. A Walmart manager in Chesapeake, Virginia, killed six people in November when he began shooting wildly inside a break room. Six others were wounded. The gunman shot and killed himself before officers arrived.
In Buffalo, New York, an 18-year-old fatally shot 10 people and injured three others last May, after seeking out a grocery store in a predominately Black neighborhood. Authorities immediately called it a hate crime.
The Omaha shooting came just over 15 years after the deadly December 2007 shooting at an Omaha Von Maur department store, when a 19-year-old gunman killed eight people and himself.