Man sought in shooting of two at Durham Walmart

ByAndrea Blanford and Josh Chapin WTVD logo
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Durham Police seek suspect in Walmart shooting
Justin Atwater, 18, has been charged but is not in custody.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two people were injured in a shooting at a Durham Walmart full of shoppers on Wednesday afternoon.

Durham Police said Wednesday evening that after an investigation, Justin James Atwater, 18, has been charged in connection with the shooting, but he is not in custody at this time.

Atwater, of Durham has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and attempted murder. Investigators said the shooting did not appear to be random.

Justin Atwater
Durham Police Department

It happened at the Walmart on New Hope Commons Drive shortly after 3 p.m. An eyewitness inside the Walmart told ABC11 that it all started with an argument between two people. Durham Police confirmed a verbal argument between two men inside the store moved outside in front of the business.


  • Two people injured -- including Walmart employee
  • One man charged, but not in custody
  • Began with argument inside the store
  • 3 initially taken into custody were not involved, but were in stolen car

According to witnesses, one of the men fired several shots, striking the other man in the stomach. A woman who was working in the eye center inside Walmart was shot in the ankle.

The 35-year-old male victim and the 38-year-old Walmart worker were taken to the hospital. Their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

An eyewitness, Tammy Sofield, said at least three shots were fired.

A shot went through the glass, striking the Walmart employee in her ankle.

"I kind of ducked and started to turn around," Sofield said. "The young girl next to me got struck in the ankle and she screamed and ran past me."

Sofield said she grabbed some towels and she and others began tending to the other gunshot victim, who was lying on the ground right outside the door.

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Police said a light blue vehicle sped away right after the shots rang out. A description was broadcast to officers, and a Durham County Sheriff's deputy spotted a vehicle matching the description on University Drive and attempted to stop it, but the driver refused to stop.

A brief chase ensued before the vehicle stopped on Arnold Road. The occupants - two men and a female juvenile - jumped out of the vehicle and ran. They were caught by officers a short time later and brought to Durham Police Headquarters for questioning.

Investigators learned that the three people in the light blue car were not involved in the shooting, but the vehicle had been reported stolen.

The two men were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The juvenile was not charged and released.

A Durham Public Schools official said Rogers Herr Middle School and Hope Valley Elementary School were briefly locked down.

Anyone with information on Atwater's whereabouts is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.