DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A triple shooting and the murder of a cashier inside a grocery store has one community grieving and asking why it had to happen.
All day Tuesday, customers of the Big Bear grocery store along Candler Road in DeKalb County stopped by to leave gifts in memory of Laquitta Willis, the cashier who was killed there on Monday.
There was also a poster board where people could leave loving messages about Willis.
“I always felt safe coming here, so that had to (have) been a very angry person,” said Helene Mapp, who knew Willis.
The customers who stopped by Big Bear on Tuesday told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that they realize grocery store shootings have become all too common across the country, but Mapp said that she would now have to worry about it in her DeKalb County neighborhood.
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“I am devastated as to what happened in this community,” Mapp said.
She told Fernandes that Willis was one of the store’s cashiers that everyone loved.
“Every one of these ladies up here real sweet. Real sweet ladies, man, and it really don’t make no sense, you know what I mean? Senseless,” Mapp said.
Willis was working in the store Monday afternoon when police say just after 1 p.m., Victor Lee Tucker, Jr., was in line waiting to buy some items.
That’s when the two of them started arguing when Tucker refused to put on a mask, which is store policy.
Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Tucker left the store without buying the items, then came back with a gun and shot Willis.
A security guard, who is also a DeKalb County deputy, pulled out his gun and shot Tucker. That’s when Tucker shot back and hit the security guard twice.
Both men survived and are recovering from their injuries.
“My sister was in the store yesterday. She was two registers down. She called me when they hustled them up to the upstairs storage,” said Debra Heanter.
It was store employee Matthew Bowers who helped those customers to safety.
“(I was like,) ‘Oh my God, there’s a shooting, there’s a shooting.’ So immediately I got further back into the store and a lot more customers were swarming in through the back,” Bowers said.
Fernandes learned a little bit more about the deputy who was shot. He is in the reserve unit for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and a retired major with the DeKalb County Police Department.
The precinct he was in command over is located right across a parking lot from the store, so he was familiar with people in the neighborhood.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with Willis’ funeral expenses.
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