A 20-year-old Georgia woman was fatally shot inside a Walmart on Wednesday by her ex-boyfriend, who then shot himself, police said.
Zoey Nicole Messenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition along with James Wyatt Nicholas Norton, 26, after the shooting at the Walmart where he worked, the Hiram Police Department said in a statement. They both died of their gunshot wounds.
According to police, Norton approached Messenger for a brief conversation that “did not appear to be angry or animated” before pulling out a handgun to shoot her. It’s not clear if he was working at the time of the shooting.
Police said that they responded to a report of shots being fired at the store at about 7:22 p.m. and that when officers arrived, people were running out of the building.
Devani Lopez, who was inside the store at the time, told Atlanta station WAGA-TV that he ran to the exit as soon as he heard the second gunshot.
“I ran straight for the car,” Lopez said. “I could see everyone running for their lives. Everyone was just so panicked and scared.”
According Messenger’s social media pages, she had been in a relationship with Norton since 2022. In a Facebook post last week, though, she announced she’d entered a new relationship.
On Facebook, friends and family shared their shock over the shooting as they remembered Messenger as fun and loving.
In a statement to HuffPost, a spokesperson for Walmart confirmed that Norton was an associate and added that the company is doing everything it can to support employees, including on-site counseling services.
“We’re thankful for the local first responders and will continue to work with law enforcement during their investigation.”