Arkansas grocery store shoppers hid in freezer, ran for cover amid shooting that killed 3, hurt 10

ByTaylor Galgano and Dalia Faheid CNNWire logo
Saturday, June 22, 2024
3 killed, 10 wounded in shooting at grocery store in Arkansas
Police say three people were killed and at least 10 injured when a shooter opened fire at a grocery store in Fordyce, Arkansas.

FORDYCE, Ark. -- Families were shopping at a local grocery store in a small Arkansas town on Friday when the sound of gunfire reverberated through the store, sending them running for cover or huddling in a freezer.

Katrina Doherty - who had been shopping for dinner with her 18-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son - said she first thought she heard the sound of something falling but then saw glass shatter and someone drop to the ground. That's when she knew shots were being fired.

Outside, David Rodriguez was pulling into a gas station when he heard "pops" that he initially thought were fireworks. He then noticed the grocery store's front windows were broken - as if they had been "shot open" by gunfire, Rodriguez said.

Panicked shoppers then started running away as gunshots were fired rapidly, Rodriguez said.

A man had opened fire at the Mad Butcher in Fordyce, killing three people and wounding 10 others. Law enforcement responded around 11:30 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with the "lone suspect," according to Arkansas State Police.

Cellphone video captured a man in the parking lot aiming a long gun and firing in multiple directions.

Not finding an escape route, Doherty and others in the store hurriedly hid in a freezer. Doherty's daughter and son, who were in a different aisle, reunited with their mother in the back of the store and followed two store workers into the freezer. The 39-year-old mother said she heard about nine or ten rounds before making it into the icy shelter.

"We ran in there really fast. We still heard gunshots keep going off," Doherty said. "It was like slow motion. My daughter was like 'Mama, pinch me, this can't be real.' And I was like, 'Baby, it's real.'"

From outside, Rodriguez heard sirens and watched as ambulances and police arrived at the scene.

Doherty couldn't hear what was happening outside, and when they tried to call 9-1-1, there was no service. The group stayed inside, enduring the freezing cold in "panic mode," with some praying and others crying, she recalled.

Her son started to cry, "but we finally got him calmed down because I didn't want the shooter to hear."

"We were just sitting there and praying. I was in panic mode. My son about froze to death. We tried to get him quiet, but he was saying he wanted his daddy. It felt like we were in there forever," Doherty said. "We were in there maybe 15 minutes. I was asking the Lord to protect over everybody. I was just praying. The other lady, she was praying. She was crying."

At one point, one of the workers opened the freezer door, and saw someone dead right outside of it, Doherty said. The door remained shut until one of the store workers heard police outside, and they were then escorted out of the store, Doherty said.

Once she was out of the store, Doherty reunited with her 15-year-old twin daughters who were waiting outside in the car during the shooting and ducked down when they heard the gunshots.

The country has seen a spate of shootings in the past few weeks, with 21 mass shootings recorded by the Gun Violence Archive since last Friday. Shootings permeated a Michigan splash pad, a Texas Juneteenth celebration and a Massachusetts car meetup, among other locations.

They are among at least 234 mass shootings have taken place in the United States in 2024, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.

The aftermath of the shooting

Matthew Gill, the meat manager at the Mad Butcher, told CNN a man came into the store with a shotgun and ended up in a shootout with police.

Two police officers were wounded in the gunfire. The suspected shooter, identified by authorities as 44-year-old Travis Eugene Posey, was also wounded and taken into custody.

Posey, a resident of New Edinburg, is expected to be charged with three counts of capital murder, with additional charges pending, according to an Arkansas State Police news release. He is set to appear in court on Monday, according to Dallas County prosecutor Eric Marks.

The injuries to the officers and the suspect are not considered life-threatening, according to Mike Hagar, the secretary of public safety and director of Arkansas State Police. He noted the "situation is secured ... contained. There are no active threats to the community."

"The remaining civilian injuries range from non-life threatening to extremely critical," he said.

Posey was "treated for non-life-threatening injuries after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement, released to ASP custody, and transported to the Ouachita County Detention Center," ASP said in the release. It is unclear if Posey has retained legal counsel at this point.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement on X said she had been briefed on the "tragic shooting" in Fordyce and is in "constant contact" with state police at the scene. Fordyce, a small city in southeast Dallas County, had a population of just 3,396 in 2020.

Fordyce City Council Member Roderick Rogers told CNN affiliate KATV that he was on the phone with someone in the store when the shooting took place. "Man, it was bad," Rogers said.

The council member said that he spoke with survivors of the shooting who "are traumatized."

"We are trying to get some counseling and everything set up at the moment," he added.

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