Elkhart, Ind. A horrific night at an Elkhart supermarket ended with three people dead, after a man opened fire in the store.
It happened just after 10 p.m. at the Martin's on E. Bristol Avenue.
On Thursday morning, Martin's Supermarkets issued this statement:
"Martin’s Super Markets located at 3900 E. Bristol Street in Elkhart will remain closed today after the tragic events of last night.
'The entire Martin’s family is saddened by this tragedy,' says Rob Bartels, Martin’s President & CEO. 'We will be offering counseling services to employees today and for as long as necessary. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved and the entire community. Additionally, we would like to thank everyone in the community for all your thoughts and prayers,' adds Bartels.
Martin’s has been and will continue to coordinate with police authorities as necessary. “We know that the quick response from Elkhart Police saved lives, and for that we will be forever grateful. We appreciate the professional way in which both the Elkhart and Indiana State Police have handled the situation,” says Bartels.
Police say the gunman used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot and kill two women. He had the weapon pointed at a third person when they arrived and fired the fatal shots.
'It's a huge crime scene,' said Sgt. Trent Smith with the Indiana State Police. 'The area where the shootings happened in the store are basically from one end of the store to the next. There were several rounds fired in there, both from police and the suspect.'"
The two women were shot at sites about a dozen aisles apart.
As the gunshots rang out in the store, the community's idea of 'reality' was shattered. No one imagined such a shooting happening in Elkhart.
"It makes me feel angry, obviously," said Tony Beltran, whose mother was working at the Martin's at the time. "This world I guess is kind of screwed up right now."
The gunman was Shawn Walter Bair, 22, from Elkhart. He entered the store's south side door carrying a large caliber handgun and a knife.
The man shot a 44-year-old female shopper and a 20-year-old store employee.
The first two Elkhart City Police officers arrived on the scene within three minutes and quickly took the suspect down. Police say the suspect pointed his gun at officers before they shot and killed him.
"There is no doubt Elkhart city was prepared," Smith said. "They knew what they were confronted with. They acted with bravery. They knew that when they entered that store and heard that gun shot that they went directly to the area where they heard the last gunshot. That was obviously in an effort to stop what he was doing, which was killing people in the store."
Employees and customers were evacuated from the store and held for questioning. Nearby businesses were also put on lock down.
Meanwhile, frantic family members could only stand nearby and wait for news of their loved ones.
"She told me that she heard what sounded like gunshots and everybody around her was telling her they heard gunshots," Beltran said. "Obviously I was afraid. I said a quick prayer."
Indiana State Police are handling the investigation since the shooting involved Elkhart police officers.
They say the scene is so large, it could take up to 12 hours to process.
However, processing the tragedy is something that will take much longer for the people of Elkhart.
"This is horrible," said Jessica Smith, who manages a restaurant that was placed on lock down during the shooting. "I mean, nobody wants this to happen so close to home. This is a reality check. And, a sing of the world we live in. This is a scary place."
The police are looking into whether the suspect has any connection to the Martin's store or the victims.