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Walmart employee fatally shoots customer who tried to stop fight between 2 workers inside store, investigators say

Deadly Lauderdale Lakes Walmart shooting involved customer trying to stop fight between 2 workers
Deadly Lauderdale Lakes Walmart shooting involved customer trying to stop fight between 2 workers 00:49

An off-duty Walmart employee fatally shot a customer who tried to help a female employee who had gotten into a fight with the off-duty employee, Florida law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Tironie Sterling, 22, is charged with first-degree murder for Tuesday afternoon's shooting at a suburban Ft. Lauderdale Walmart, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.

According to investigators, Sterling went to the Lauderdale Lakes store to meet with a female colleague. They got into an argument that escalated into a fight, with Sterling dropping a handgun onto the floor.

A male customer came to the woman's aid, but Sterling retrieved his gun and shot the man several times, killing him, investigators said. The victim's name and age have not been released.

The shooting led to mass panic inside the store, CBS Miami reported.

"I heard somebody (and) I see people running and everything, so I chose to follow them and go outside," worker Rose Alexander Satchelle told the station.

Modupe Williams, a shopper, said: "We heard some shots. No one thought anything of it and then it kept going. Everyone started running. I left my book bag."

Broward Sheriff's Officers respond to a shooting inside the Walmart at 3001 N. State Road 7 in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida after a man was shot inside the store on Tuesday May 2, 2023.  Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Sterling fled the store, but was arrested hours later, investigators said. He was being held without bond Wednesday awaiting his initial court appearance. It could not be immediately determined if he has an attorney.

"Senseless violence like this is intolerable, and we're heartbroken the customer who intervened in an apparent attack on one of our associates has died from his injuries," Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson said in a statement. "We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family during this difficult time and will continue working with our associates, providing support as needed."

He said Sterling has been suspended and "steps are underway to terminate his employment."

Lauderhill resident Cynthia Walker told CBS News Miami that she witnessed Sterling's arrest and shared cell phone video that showed the incident.

"I saw tactical teams flying out of the vehicle and I said what is going on," she said. "I feel bad. This never should have happened. People should deal with each other in a peaceful way. I send my condolences to the family."

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