Two Men Shot Dead Inside Toys 'R' Us
Posted: Nov 28, 2008 02:39 PM EST
Updated: Nov 28, 2008 06:44 PM EST
|A woman was detained by deputies outside the Toys "R" Us. She was seen screaming at someone held inside a deputy's cruiser.
|A deputy secures the area following the Toys-R-Us shooting on Black Friday.
By News Channel 3
The two people shot and killed inside a crowded Toys "R" Us store in Palm Desert on Black Friday were identified as two Hispanic men, Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.
"We got a call of shots fired," sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said. "We went in the store and we have two dead individuals."
There was no immediate word of any relationship between the victims or what caused the shooting to erupt. Deputies say they were not looking for any suspects.
The incident happened just before 11:30 a.m. at the store located at 72314 Highway 111 near Fred Waring Drive.
Several Palm Desert city officials were told by police on what exactly happened.
According to Palm Desert city councilman Jim Ferguson, two men with handguns shot and killed each other.
Ferguson says he asked police whether the incident was a dispute over a toy or whether it was gang-related. He says police told him they are not going to release further details until the victims' relatives are notified.
City spokeswoman Sheila Gilligan says police told her the shooting broke out in the Toys 'R' Us between two groups of individuals who have a dispute with each other.
Several people were detained following the shooting. News Channel 3 cameras captured at least two arrests outside the store including a woman who was heard screaming and banging on a Sheriff's cruiser. Authorities tell News Channel 3 that some of those arrests were not related to the shooting incident itself.
Deputies told News Channel 3 that some shoppers inside were evacuated while others were kept in the store shortly after the shooting as deputies swept the store for suspects.
Toys"R" Us issued a statement expressing its outrage "by the act of violence" and "the fact that anyone would compromise the safety and security of our customers and employees."
"We are working closely with local law enforcement officials to determine the specific details of what occurred," the statement said. "Our understanding is that this act seems to have been the result of a personal dispute between the individuals involved. Therefore, it would be inaccurate to associate the events of today with Black Friday."
Daniel Watson's wife and mother-in-law were inside the store at the time of the shooting. Watson told News Channel 3 that he was on the phone with her wife as shooting rang out. Watson's wife called back to tell her husband that she was safe and her mother escaped the store.
Some Toys "R" Us shoppers who fled the store sought refuge in a gym across the street.
"All of a sudden a dozen to 15 people came in distressed," Jeff Vallaire, who manages the World Gym on Town Center Way in Palm Desert, told City News Service. "One of them had an infant who was crying.
"They said there was a shooting, they heard five or six shots and they fled out the back of the store," Vallaire said.
Vallaire said several law enforcement officers came into the gym and spent roughly an hour interviewing shoppers who had been in the Toys "R" Us store at the time of the shooting.
The area remained crowded with shoppers and a parking lot across the street, which was sealed off in connection with the shooting investigation remained full, Vallaire said.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department as well as officers from the Cathedral City and Indio police departments are on scene.
The shooting comes on the morning of Black Friday, one of the year's busiest shopping days.
News Channel 3 has a crew on the scene and we'll bring you live updates on the air and online at KESQ.com.