A gunman shot and killed a toddler and his grandmother before shooting himself fatally in a Publix grocery store in Palm Beach County, Florida Thursday morning, authorities said.
Representatives from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office found their bodies near the grocery department when they entered the Royal Palm Beach store just before 11:40 a.m., a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said.
The names of the victims and the shooter were not immediately disclosed.
The child, a boy, would have turned 2 by the end of this month, said Teri Barbera, the sheriff’s spokeswoman.
“We have no idea who the man is at this point,” Ms. Barbera said, referring to the shooter.
Later on Thursday, authorities said there was no known relationship between the shooter and the two victims. A motive for the shooting had not yet been determined.
Investigators checked in-store security videos and spoke to witnesses, Ms. Barbera said.
“We are now documenting the scene,” said Ms. Barbera. “We’re trying to find out what led to the shooting.”
The store is in a mall called Crossroads, next to Okeechobee Boulevard and Royal Palm Beach Boulevard. The village of Royal Palm Beach is 12 miles west of Palm Beach, Florida.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy,” Maria Brous, a Publix spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We cooperate with the local authorities.”
Helicopter footage from local TV channels showed a heavy police presence in front of the shop with around 15 police cars on site.
Juan Guardia, a Publix customer, told reporters at the scene that he was in the delicatessen area of the store when he heard gunshots. A shop clerk shouted, “A shooter, a shooter! he said.
Joey Mendoza told The South Florida Sun Sentinel that he was pulling into the parking lot on his way to the Publix when he saw police cruisers and officers, some in tactical gear, approaching the store.
“I saw them drive in, I didn’t get out of the vehicle,” he said. “They just got on. Cruiser after cruiser, ambulance after ambulance, fire engine after fire engine. “
Officials from nearby Crestwood Middle School temporarily locked the school, according to the Palm Beach County School District. An employee of a Dollar Tree store in the shopping complex said the square was locked while authorities were investigating the shooting.
Melissa McKinlay, a Palm Beach County commissioner who represents the area where the shooting took place, said on Twitter that “we have become too deaf to gun violence.”
She urged the public “to mourn the loss of these lives and to pray for those within Publix who witnessed this tragedy”.
Neil Vigdor contributed to the coverage.