FORREST CITY, Ark. – Two police officers were injured and a suspect killed Monday during an active-shooter incident at a Walmart Supercenter, authorities said.
Arkansas state police said two officers with the Forrest City Police Department were injured during the shooting. “The prayers of the ASP are with the 2 Forrest City officers that were injured this morning in a shooting at Walmart,” state police tweeted.
One officer was sent to Regional One Medical Center for emergency surgery Monday afternoon. The other officer was treated and released at a hospital in Forrest City.
Police Chief Deon Lee said the shooting incident “could have been a whole lot worse.”
At a news conference around 1:30 p.m. local time, Forrest City Mayor Cedric Williams described the “heroism and quick response” of police on the scene.
“The quick response of our officers saved a lot of lives today,” Williams said.
According to Forrest City police officials, a call was made to authorities from someone inside the Walmart Supercenter, about 50 miles west of Memphis, Tennessee.
The caller reported an individual inside the store was making threats, acting suspicious and, as the police chief described it, “talking out of his head.”
Officers arrived around 10:30 and confronted the man.
The two wounded officers were identified as Lt. Eric Varner and Detective Eugene Watlington. Neither wore body armor, Lee said.
It is not clear which officer was more seriously injured, but Lee said of the officer’s initial prognosis, “He’ll be OK.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed on Twitter that special agents responded to the incident.
Scott Pope, a Walmart spokesman, said the company assisted police in the investigation. The company is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Kimani McKnight, an employee at a nearby Dollar Tree store, said she did not see or hear anything at the Walmart, but the Dollar Tree was put on lockdown.
“I’m scared,” said Kim Bery, an employee at an auto parts store across the street from the Walmart.
Bery said she could see a lot of police at the Walmart and employees appeared to have been evacuated into the parking lot.
“All students and staff are safe and administrators took all appropriate actions. We are praying for the officers injured in the incident and would like to thank the Forrest City Police Department for their rapid response to this emergency situation,” the Forrest City School District wrote in a Facebook post.
A shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August left 22 people dead. The alleged shooter, who is accused of targeting Hispanics, faces federal charges, including hate crime charges.
In July, two men were killed in a shooting at a Mississippi Walmart, and a suspect described by police as a disgruntled former employee was charged with two counts of murder.
In store locations with high crime, Walmart has off-duty policemen who patrol parking lots. It uses a wide variety of technology, including towers that have surveillance cameras, in its parking lots, spokesman Randy Hargrove said in August.
Walmart did not say what security measures were in place at the Forrest City location.
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press. Miller reported from McLean, Virginia.