Three people are dead and two more in hospital after a person in a New Orleans gun store opened fire, killing two before dying when customers and staff shot back, police say.
The shooting happened at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in the suburb of Metairie around 2.50pm on Saturday, according to a release from the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said the shooter initially hit two people inside, and then several other people – either employees or store customers – opened fire on the shooter, both inside and outside the building.
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Guns and ammunition are sold in the front of the outlet that faces a main thoroughfare through Jefferson Parish. Customers who want to use the shooting range generally go around to the side entrance of the building. Staff who work there often wear a sidearm.
Lopinto said two other people were also hit by gunfire and were hospitalized in stable condition. He said there were multiple shooters and investigators had just begun trying to piece together what had happened.
“We’re trying to put it all together, piece it together,” the sheriff said.
None of the dead or wounded were immediately identified. Lopinto said the investigation was continuing as authorities tried to determined the exact details of what happened.
Tyrone Russell and Wanetta Joseph were both in a conceal-and-carry course at the store when they heard what they both described as rapid firing. They said the gunfire sounded much louder than the usual muffled shooting that they are used to hearing inside the shooting range.
“We heard the gunshots and the screaming,” said Russell. “When the police came, they escorted us out. I could see glass everywhere. It was just like a really scary scene.”
“It got extremely loud, like a bomb almost,” said Joseph, who hid with other students under a table not knowing if there were multiple shooters or if one was near the classroom.
One instructor stayed with the students while two others left the room and headed toward the sound of gunfire.
Russell said that when he was led out, he could see a guy “laid out” in the parking lot not far from his car, which was struck by bullets. He described seeing shattered glass and bullet casings strewn about the store.
Caution tape surrounded the business to keep onlookers from getting close to the scene, where ambulances and numerous law enforcement vehicles had arrived earlier. A neighboring Taco Bell had been evacuated.
Outside the building a man could be seen behind the yellow police tape yelling “Where is my son?”
Metairie is a major suburb of New Orleans, about five miles (8km) west of the city’s iconic French Quarter, in neighboring Jefferson Parish.