3 dead in shooting at Florida shopping plaza

Dreamstime/TNS

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Three people, including a toddler, are dead following a shooting at a Publix Super Market in Royal Palm Beach shortly before noon on Thursday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

The agency’s didn’t immediately identify the man, woman and young boy who were found dead near the produce section of the store on Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards. PBSO said the shooter was one of the fatalities.

They also said the woman was related to the child, who would have turned 2 this month. However, they didn’t explain the relationship.

Juan Guardia said he was in the deli area when chaos erupted.

“I heard, ‘They’re shooting!’ A woman Publix worker said, ‘Run! Shooting!’” Guardia recalled. “I was scared. It’s sad because everything happened fast. Everyone was running, some employees were crying.”

At a news conference, PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera said detectives were speaking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance-camera video as they tried to determine what led to the shooting, which occurred at about 11:40 a.m.

Authorities did not describe the relationship of the three deceased, although Barbera said it was possible that they knew each other.

Multiple patrol cars arrived at The Crossroads shopping center to investigate the shooting. A PBSO helicopter hovered above the store. A Palm Beach County Fire Rescue vehicle also was at the scene.

Onlookers, who gathered outside, expressed shock at the deadly events that unfolded.

“This is a friendly Publix. I can’t believe this crazy thing happened,” said Tracy Greene, a regular at the shopping center.

“I’ve been here for 20 years and I can’t believe this is happening,” agreed Tracey Cohron, a Royal Palm Beach resident who often shops at the Publix. “I know so many people who work there. I’m scared to death to find out who even got shot.”

Had she left her home six minutes earlier, Cohron said, she might have been inside the store when gunfire erupted. “This is insane,” she said. “I can’t believe this is really happening in my neighborhood.”

PBSO tweeted shortly after the incident: “Detectives are investigating a shooting that took place INSIDE Publix in RPB. Upon arrival deputies located three individuals deceased from gunshot wounds, one adult male, one adult female and one child. The shooter is one of the deceased. This was NOT an active shooter situation.”

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