AK-47 Wielding Gunman Kills 2 Coworkers, Self in New Jersey
A heavily armed ex-Marine in camouflage gear gunned down two co-workers in a New Jersey supermarket rampage before killing himself early Friday, officials said.
The disgruntled worker returned to the Pathmark store around 4 a.m. and began blasting away with an AK-47 assault rifle at the skeleton staff, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
The irate employee squeezed off 16 shots from the rifle, killing an 18-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man — both of Old Bridge, said Kaplan.
He was carrying extra magazines of ammunition and a handgun when the unprovoked killings began, Kaplan said. The shooter worked the midnight shift stocking shelves in the store on Route 9, according to another employee.
The shooter and his two victims were all at work when the gunman left the building around 3:30 a.m., returning about 30 minutes later with murderous intent.
About a dozen other workers escaped the pre-dawn assault uninjured. The store was not yet open for business at the time of the bloody attack.
When police arrived, the killer was already dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, officials said.
Kaplan said the motive for the double murder-suicide remained unclear. Authorities withheld the 23-year-old shooter’s name, but a friend told the Daily News that he was stunned by the attack.
“He was a normal kid,” said Manase Acheampong, 25, who last saw the killer down the Jersey shore on the Fourth of July. “That’s why I’m shocked. I never would have guessed it in a million years.”
Pathmark worker Mike Pizoto, 17, said he recently shared a cigarette with the shooter.
“He seemed nice,” Pizoto told the News. “He didn’t seem like he would kill people. I’m shocked. I can’t believe this happened.”
The suburban New Jersey store, about 30 miles south of Manhattan, wasn’t due to open for another two hours when the man arrived toting the AK-47 and an automatic pistol arrived, officials said.
The armed worker started working at the supermarket about two weeks ago, said Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry. Two smashed windows were visible in the front of the store, and a pair of police cars were parked by its entrance.
“This is the worst phone call a mayor can receive,” Henry told the Newark Star-Ledger. “You can prepare for these things, but you can’t prevent them.”
Commuters were steered away from a nearby NJ Transit park-and-ride lot as law enforcement shut down the area around the store.
Store workers who survived the unprovoked attack huddled outside a nearby restaurant.