Nebraska man who shot inside Target got rifle 4 days earlier –
BY HEATHER HOLLINGWORTH
The man fatally shot by police after entering a Target store in Omaha, Nebraska, armed with an AR-15 rifle had received the gun at a Cabela sporting goods store just four days earlier, police said on Wednesday with Nobody else was hurt.
Court records show the man, identified by police as Joseph Jones, 32, of suburban Omaha in Douglas County, where Omaha is located, had no prior felony convictions. Records also indicate that he had no prior documented contact with the city’s police force.
He entered the store around noon Tuesday, where police said he fired multiple rounds, causing shoppers and workers to run for exits and hide in toilet stalls. Along with the rifle, he had 13 loaded rifle magazines with ammunition.
Jones’ uncle, Larry Derksen Jr., said his nephew had schizophrenia and his mental illness isolated him.
“My nephew went to Target. I think he had no intention of hurting anyone. He fired a few rounds,” Derksen told KETV-TV. “He had an AR-15 before the police got there. If he had intended to kill someone, he would have done it. He would have had time to do that.”
Mental health experts say most people with mental illness are not violent. They are much more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem.
Derksen told KETV that “that was predictable” and that his nephew should never have had a gun.
Callers deluged 911 dispatchers with around 30 calls for help, and Omaha police officers and a Nebraska state police officer rushed to the scene. They quickly ran into Jones and ordered him to drop the rifle.
Police said Officer Brian Vanderheiden, a 20-year veteran of the city’s police force, then shot, punched and killed Jones. The press release states that Vanderheiden has been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policy.
Police have not yet released a timeline showing how long Jones was at the store before officers responded, but Omaha Police Lieutenant Neal Bonacci said they are working on one.
After the shooting, officers searched the store three times before declaring the scene safe, according to police. During the investigation, officers found shell casings in the store.
Cabela’s did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press requesting comment.
Bonacci said police are speaking to the family while they look for a motive. But he added: “I don’t know if we’ll ever necessarily know.”
Several other shootings have taken place in stores across the country in recent months, at a time when mass shootings have drawn worryingly frequent public attention.
In January, a woman was injured in a shooting at a Walmart store in Evansville, Indiana. Police said things could have been much worse were it not for the heroic actions of an employee and the police. Officers arrived within minutes and fatally shot the gunman. A Walmart executive in Chesapeake, Virginia, killed six people in November when he started wild shooting in a break room. Six others were injured. The gunman shot and killed himself before officers arrived.
In Buffalo, New York, an 18-year-old man fatally shot 10 people and injured three others last May after visiting a grocery store in a mostly black neighborhood. Authorities immediately called it a hate crime.
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