A third-party vendor who shot 15 people, one fatally, at a Tennessee supermarket was asked to leave his job before the gunfire erupted, authorities said Monday in a statement.
Uk Thang, 29, was identified as the suspected shooter in Thursday’s mass shooting at a Kroger on New Byhalia Road in Collierville, a suburb about 30 miles east of downtown Memphis, according to city police Chief Dale Lane. He died from what authorities said they believed was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“The shooter moved into the Town of Collierville in the summer of 2020,” police said in the statement. “He was a third-party vendor working inside Kroger and was asked to leave his job the morning of Thursday, September 23, 2021.”
The victims included 10 employees and five customers. Four people, all stable, remained at the Regional One Health Medical Center as of Monday afternoon.
Collierville Alderman Maureen Fraser identified the lone fatality in the shooting as friend Olivia King.
“I will miss her terribly,” she said Thursday in a statement.
According to Lane, the carnage was unlike anything he has ever seen.
“We all came to the scene and all went into that building and so it’s the worst thing that I’ve seen in 34 years,” Lane said, describing a chaotic scene of people hiding in every corner of the store. “Coming out of, you know, like I said we were finding people all over the stores hidden. And in the freezers closets, you know, all over.”
The police chief praised workers and shoppers, alike, for their own lifesaving actions as soon as gunfire erupted.
“As we entered that building, it was very obvious they, the employees and even the customers, knew what to do — it was run, hide and fight. They secured themselves,” Lane told reporters. “They did what they had to do until we could get in there to help them.”
The lawmaker praised first responders whose “many years of training was put to the test today and they did an remarkable job, it could have been so much worse.”
“Continue to pray for several others who were shot and are currently in surgery,” Fraser added. “Pray for the health care providers. Pray for the Kroger employees. Pray for Collierville!”
Officials at Kroger, the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain, said in a statement Friday that they were “horrified and heartbroken over the senseless violence” that left a customer dead.
“In the hours since the shooting,” the company added, “we’re learning of truly heroic acts that included associates, customers and first responders selflessly helping to protect and save others.”
For Collierville’s 51,000 residents, Thursday afternoon will be a moment they will never forget, Mayor Stan Joyner said.
“This is, for the town of Collierville, I think going to be one of those ‘where were you when’ events,” he told reporters on Friday. “That’s something that’s a reality.”