Apex Target shoppers talk about ordeal

June 3, 2010 4:13:05 AM PDT
More stories of survival are emerging from inside the Apex Super Target where a man killed his ex-girlfriend and then himself.Detectives say 67-year-old Mervin Carroll Mims walked into the Super Target store in the Beaver Creek Commons shopping center off Highway 55 around 11:30 a.m. Sunday and shot 58-year-old employee Guadalupe Rosas of Apex.

Rosas had just opened a new cash register when the attack happened. Witnesses said Mims didn't say anything - just shot Rosas multiple times. Mims was still in the store when police arrived. An Apex police spokesperson said officers challenged him and told him to put down his pistol. Instead, he pointed the gun at his head and took his own life.

Shopper Jon Wolf says the first gunshot left everyone confused.

"Everyone looked around I could see from the sides everyone was stunned, including myself," he said.

But moments later, Wolf says there was another shot and then sheer panic, with people running and screaming. Wolf was in the produce section and he spotted his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

"She was in quasi-shock, if you will, she wasn't moving too freely, she looked kind of dazzled," Wolf said.

He says he grabbed the two and as they crouched down for cover, he reached for a Granny Smith apple.

"I'm not naive enough to think that this weapon would match that of the assailant, but I needed anything I can get," Wolf said.

He vividly remembers seeing a female Target employee, he believes helped save lives.

"She was just prodding with both arms for people, 'everyone get out, he's got a gun,'" Wolf said. "That individual was an absolute hero."

A father who hid in the store with his 7-year-old daughter and another teenage girl is also sharing his story.

Tony Cope and his family were at the store Sunday morning when they decided to split up.

He says he took his youngest daughter, so his wife and older daughter could go to another part of the store to buy the 7-year-old a birthday present -- that's when the shooting started.

"As we're talking you hear this 'bam', you know, and my natural reaction - it sounded like somebody dropping a box like a desk came in or something," Cope said. "My wife actually said, 'Wow, somebody just broke something.'"

Cope had that conversation with his wife over his cell phone, while she was in another part of the store with their 12-year-old daughter.

"As soon as I saw the panicked crowd running my brain put, loud noise, crowd, gunshot and then more gunshots and so I immediately knew even though I didn't want to register it, I knew what was happening," Cope said.

Cope thought there might be multiple gunmen shooting at the crowd, so instead of following out the back of the store, he decided to hide in a clothes rack.

"I assumed they were shooting toward the crowd and I wanted to be down," Cope said. "I wanted my daughter to be away from that." Soon he and his youngest daughter were joined by a panicked 15-year-old named Jen after she was separated from her mother.

"This poor girl, a 15-year-old I found out later named Jen, comes in with this panicked, sheer desperate look and asks if she could hide with us," Cope said. "Jen knew what was going on ... she was terrified, because she knew what was going on."

Jen and Cope's daughter curled up inside the rack while Cope thought out about defending them with the only weapon he had, a pocket knife.

"What am I going to do with this," Cope said. "There's a gunman and I've got not just a knife, I've got probably the smallest knife."

Jen had been shopping in another part of the store away from her mother who they would find out later had escaped out the back with Cope's wife and his oldest daughter.

"She heard some woman yelling for Jen and she said, 'Well my husband's with her inside,'" Cope said.

It was after 30 minutes that Cope finally realized that he, his daughter and Jen were safe. He was texting with his wife who was outside telling him what was going on.

"It was a horrible situation and you're back together," Cope said. "It's a really powerful, powerful moment."

You can read Cope's rundown of events in his own words by reading this blog entitled, "Target is Now a Double Entendre: 30 Minutes of Misunderstanding."

Meawhile, a funeral for Guadalupe will be held on Thursday. She had lived in Apex for the past two years and became a U.S. citizen back in April.

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