Pensacola, FL – An active shooter opened fire inside a grocery store and was planning to ambush Escambia County deputies when they arrived to stop him, according to the sheriff.
The incident began at Grocery Advantage on Lillian Highway at approximately 2:42 p.m. on Thursday, WKRG reported.
The unnamed suspect entered the business and began firing a gun, witnesses told WALA.
Lee Gainey, who works at a tire shop across the street, said that horrified shoppers fled into the tire business after escaping from the grocery store, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
“People came out screaming and saying there was a shooter,” Gainey said. “They were all running out.”
“Sheer terror – they were really upset,” he told WKRG.
Three Escambia County sheriff’s deputies were in the area as the gunfire erupted, and raced to the scene, WALA reported.
“Our officers run towards the shooting – they don’t run from it,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told WKRG.
They chased the gunman to the storage and loading area in the rear portion of the store, where the suspect barricaded himself behind boxes and prepared to ambush the deputies, Sheriff Morgan explained.
The deputies spotted the gunman as he “raised up” with a “firearm in his hand,” and fired at him, striking him at least twice, Sheriff Morgan said.
The shooter was hit in the lower leg and possibly in the chest, according to the sheriff.
He was subsequently taken to a local hospital for treatment, and his condition has not been released, WALA reported.
The deputy who shot the gunman “acted exactly as he was trained to do,” Sheriff Morgan told WKRG.
Investigators recovered the suspect’s small-caliber handgun at the scene.
No citizens or deputies were injured during the active shooter incident.
“As the Sheriff, I know I speak not only for the Sheriff’s Office but all citizens of Escambia County, in thanking the fine men and women of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office for their professionalism and courage which is displayed every day but especially today in stopping this suspect,” Sheriff Morgan wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is handling the ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting.