3 dead, man, woman and child

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A grandmother and a boy are dead after Thursday’s incident. Their family has invoked their right to privacy, blocking the release of their names.

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ROYAL PALM BEACH — In a Publix filled with lunchtime shoppers, a man Thursday walked into the produce section, fatally shot a woman and her young grandson, and then turned the gun on himself, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

The agency said late Thursday it would not identify either the woman or the toddler, who would have turned 2 years old this month. It said their family had invoked its rights under a 2018 amendment to the state constitution, modeled on California’s Marsy’s Law, that allows crime victims and their families to withhold their names from public reports.

The sheriff’s office said it would identify the gunman once it notifies his next of kin. It said that as of Thursday night, there was “no known motive or relationship between the gunman and his victims.” It cautioned that its detectives still were investigating.

What we know about Royal Palm Beach shopping plaza shooting

Officials said a gun was found near the body of the man and they believe his injuries were self-inflicted.

Deputies said the Publix, in The Crossroads shopping plaza at Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards, would remained closed until Saturday.

Customers can collect the items they left behind between 9 a.m. and noon Friday in front of the store, the agency said. All items have been safely bagged and a sheriff’s deputy will distribute them.

‘I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’

The murderous attack at the store sent panicked shoppers and workers scurrying for cover, witnesses said.

Juan Guardia said he was near the deli when chaos erupted.

“I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’ ” Guardia recalled. “I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running. Some employees were crying.”

At a news conference, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said detectives were interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance-camera video as they tried to determine what led to the shooting, which occurred at about 11:40 a.m.  

Onlookers outside the shopping plaza expressed shock at the deadly events that came on the heels of a series of mass shootings around the country and days before Saturday’s five-year anniversary of the deadly rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 50 dead. 

Store patrons saddened, shocked: ‘This is a friendly Publix’

“This is a friendly Publix. I can’t believe this crazy thing happened,” said Tracy Greene, a regular at the shopping center.

“I’ve been here for 20 years, and I can’t believe this is happening,” agreed Tracey Cohron, a Royal Palm Beach resident who often shops at the Publix. “I know so many people who work there. I’m scared to death to find out who even got shot.”

Had she left her home six minutes earlier, Cohron said, she might have been inside the store when gunfire erupted. “This is insane,” she said. “I can’t believe this is really happening in my neighborhood.”

Oahtee Moody, a Royal Palm Beach resident who lives across the street from the center, said the shooting was a tragic sign of the times.

“This is not a Publix problem. This is a people problem,” Moody said. “I was born and raised here, and I never would expect this to happen.” 

Publix officials at the chain’s headquarters in Lakeland said they were aware of the shooting, but referred questions to the sheriff’s office.

“Our thoughts are with those who are impacted by this tragedy,” a Publix spokesperson said in a statement. “We are cooperating with the local law enforcement.”

Dozens of sheriff’s deputies remained at the shopping center throughout the day. They cordoned off the store and checked license tags on cars in the parking lot.

Publix employees were allowed to leave the store in groups throughout the afternoon. All declined to comment.

Other stores in the plaza closed after the shooting. It is unclear when they will reopen. Publix officials recently announced that the grocery store would close soon for renovations.

In a statement, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the area, expressed sympathy for those who were killed, their families, those who witnessed the shootings and first-responders.

But, she said, the shooting underscores a societal problem that must be…



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