Two Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide at Georgia Walmart

A man and woman were killed in a shooting that occurred Wednesday in Hiram, according to Police Chief Mike Turner: “There was some kind of former relationship”

<p>Google Maps</p> Walmart in Hiram, Georgia.

Google Maps

Walmart in Hiram, Georgia.

Two people are dead in an apparent murder-suicide that happened inside a Walmart store in Hiram, Georgia, on Wednesday, according to police.

The shooting occurred at around 7:30 p.m. local time in the Walmart located at 4166 Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. In a press release obtained by PEOPLE from the Hiram Police Department, the deceased were identified as Zoey Nicole Messenger, 20, and James Wyatt Nicholas Norton, 26. Nortan was a Walmart employee.

Per the release, initial investigations indicate "the deceased had previously been involved in a relationship." Norton approached Messenger in the store, where they appeared to have a brief conversation. Norton then pulled a gun and shot Messenger, before then turning the gun on himself.

"The senior officer on the scene took control of a handgun found with the two people and summoned medical assistance and additional law enforcement support, which was provided by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office," the Hiram Police Department stated, "The rest of the store was checked for other victims or suspects, but none were located."

According to the statement, "Lifesaving measures were initiated by the initial responding officers and continued with medical and fire personnel as they arrived. Due to their critical conditions, both persons were transported to Kennestone Hospital where both succumbed to their injuries."

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“You can imagine [being] in there shopping, you know, picking up stuff for your family when shots ring out,” the chief told Fox 5 Atlanta. “Not only for the victim herself, but for the other people in there — the fear that had to be, you know, instilled by this type of event.”

“It is very unusual for us,” he added. “We have not had an incident like that in the two plus years that I’ve been here.”

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A witness told the outlet that "as soon as I heard the second shot, I ran straight for the exit because I heard the gunshot come from my left side, so I ran to the right exit." Added Devani Lopez, "I ran straight for the car. I could see everyone running for their lives. Everyone was just so panicked and scared."

“I just hid in the backseat,” Lopez said, adding that he saw “everyone gathered in the entrance.”

“We’re heartbroken by what happened at our Hiram store tonight," Walmart said in a statement, according to ABC News. "Our priority, right now, is the safety of our associates and customers. The store will remain closed while we work with law enforcement during their investigation.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to

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