Greenville, N.C. — A man armed with a shotgun wounded one person at a Greenville law firm Friday before crossing a busy street to a Walmart, where three more people were shot and wounded, police said.
Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden said officers found the suspected gunman outside the store and exchanged gunfire with him near the entrance, wounding him several times.
All four victims and the suspect were undergoing surgery Friday afternoon at Vidant Medical Center, and their conditions weren't known.
"It does appear to be a fairly straightforward, horrific active-shooter incident," Aden said.
The incident started just before noon at the Kellum Law Firm, at 205 Greenville Blvd. Southwest.
In addition to a shotgun, the gunman had multiple rounds of ammunition in a satchel, Aden said.
"I personally saw multiple shotgun rounds. I don’t know how many but enough to do significant damage," he said.
Investigators haven't yet determined if the shooting spree was random or if any of the victims were targeted.
The incident was over within a matter of minutes, and Aden praised the quick response of his officers.
"If we had responded the way police used to respond to active shooters, we would’ve had more victims," he said. "The way we train now is, literally, the first officers on the scene go to the threat. That’s exactly what they did without regard for their own safety. They went right for the threat, engaged it and neutralized it.
"I’m glad to see they came out of it unscathed and prevented further horrible violence."
Justin Lawler said he was working at a fireworks stand outside when he saw the shooter.
"He did not care who was in his way," he said. "Anyone who was in his way, he shot them."
Lawler also saw the police response.
"They all drew their weapons," he said. "I heard him shoot his gun like twice, then it was like full on 40 or 50 shots and it didn't break."
Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas praised the quick work of the officers.
"How big a difference did that make by the officers coming in and engaging the shooter? It saved a lot of lives here today," he said.
He added, "There was a lot of ammunition on this individual. There was a lot of harm being intended here in Greenville."
Police had the law firm and its parking lot, as well as a large section of the Walmart parking lot, cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape Friday afternoon as they investigated the shooting spree.
Greenville Boulevard, Hooker Road and Landmark Street intersections were closed to traffic for about five hours as police investigated the shootings.
The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the case, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.