Police in Omaha, Nebraska, Wednesday released new images showing the man who allegedly opened fire using an AR-15-style rifle inside a Target store, sending shoppers running for cover until he was ultimately shot and killed by a responding officer.
The suspect, identified as Joseph Jones, 32, of suburban Omaha, purchased the rifle at Cabela’s sporting goods store just four days before Tuesday’s incident at the Target located at 17810 West Center Road, the Omaha Police Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Jones is accused of entering the store around noon Tuesday, when police said he fired several rounds, sending shoppers and workers scrambling for exits and cowering in bathroom stalls. Along with the rifle, he allegedly had 13 loaded rifle magazines of ammunition.
Callers flooded 911 dispatchers with around 30 calls for help, and Omaha police officers and a Nebraska State Trooper rushed to the scene. They quickly encountered Jones and ordered him to drop the rifle.
Police said Officer Brian Vanderheiden, a 20-year veteran of the city’s police force, then fired, striking and killing Jones. No one else was hurt.
The police department said Wednesday that Vanderheiden was placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.
Omaha police released several stills from a video showing Jones, wearing a baseball cap, tan or orange sweatshirt, black pants and glasses, standing outside the store with rifle in hand. Other images show the armed Jones walking into the store and past aisles. He takes off his coat and drops it to the ground, police said.
Police have not yet released a timeline showing how long Jones was in the store before officers responded, but Omaha Police Lt. Neal Bonacci told The Associated Press they are working on one.
After the shooting, officers searched the store three times before declaring the scene safe, according to police. Through the investigation, officers found bullet casings inside the store.
Bonacci said police are talking to Jones’ family as they look for a motive, but he added, “I don’t know that we’ll ever necessarily know.”
Jones’ uncle, Larry Derksen Jr., said his nephew had schizophrenia and that his mental illness left him isolated.
“My nephew went into Target. I believe he had no intention of hurting anybody. He fired off a bunch of rounds,” Derksen told KETV-TV. “He had an AR-15 before law enforcement got there. If he had any intention of killing anybody, he would have. He would have had time to do so.”
Derksen told KETV that “this was predictable” and that his nephew should never have had a gun.
The AP reported that court records show Jones had no prior felony convictions in Douglas County, where Omaha is located. He also had no prior, documented contact with the city’s police, records show.
Several other shootings have taken place at stores across the country in recent months.
In January, one woman was injured in a shooting at a Walmart store in Evansville, Indiana. Police said it could have been much worse if not for heroic actions by an employee and the police. Officers arrived within minutes and fatally shot the gunman.
A Walmart manager in Chesapeake, Virginia, killed six people in November when he began shooting wildly inside a break room. Six others were wounded. The gunman shot and killed himself before officers arrived.
In Buffalo, New York, an 18-year-old fatally shot 10 people and injured three others last May, after seeking out a grocery store in a predominately Black neighborhood. Authorities immediately called it a hate crime.
The Omaha shooting came just over 15 years after the deadly December 2007 shooting at an Omaha Von Maur department store, when a 19-year-old gunman killed eight people and himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.