ROYAL PALM BEACH — Three people, including a young boy, are dead following a shooting at a Publix Super Market in Royal Palm Beach shortly before noon on Thursday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
It did not immediately identify the man, woman and child who were found dead near the produce section of the store on Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards. PBSO said the shooter was one of the fatalities.
Juan Guardia, said he was in the deli area 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, PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera said detectives were speaking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance video as they tried to determine what led up to the shooting that occurred around 11:30 a.m.
Authorities did not describe the relationship of the three deceased, although Barbera said it was possible that they knew each other.
Multiple patrol cars arrived at The Crossroads shopping center. A PBSO helicopter hovered in the air above the store.
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A Palm Beach County Fire Rescue vehicle also was at the scene.
Reactions to Publix shooting in Royal Palm Beach
Onlookers, who gathered outside, expressed shock at the deadly events that unfolded.
“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. “This is insane. I can’t believe this is really happening in my neighborhood.”
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“This is not a Publix problem. This is a people problem,” said Oahtee Moody, a Royal Palm Beach resident who lives across the street from the center. “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.”
In a statement, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the area, also expressed sympathy for those who were killed, their families, those who witnessed the shootings and first-responders.
But, she said, mourning is not enough. “Tomorrow we must step up and engage in a very honest conversation about why this happened and what we can do specifically to prevent this violence. Inaction is not an option.”
While a handful of Publix employees were allowed to leave the store, it appeared most workers and some customers were being kept inside to be interviewed by deputies. At about 2:30 p.m., many workers began leaving the store.
Law-enforcement officials were checking license tags on cars in the parking lot. People were not being allowed to move their vehicles.
PBSO: Shooting took place inside Publix in Royal Palm Beach
PBSO tweeted shortly after the incident: “Detectives are investigating a shooting that took place INSIDE Publix in RPB. Upon arrival deputies located three individuals deceased from gunshot wounds, one adult male, one adult female and one child. The shooter is one of the deceased. This was NOT an active shooter situation.”
Check back for updates to this breaking story.