Victor Lee Tucker, Palmetto, Georgia man shoots dead cashier at Decatur Big Bear Supermarket following dispute over face mask. Suspect and off duty deputy injured. Suspect had prior rap sheet.
Victor Lee Tucker, Jr., 30, of Palmetto, Georgia, was checking out Monday just past noon, when he got into an argument over refusing to wear a mask with a female cashier at Big Bear Supermarket in Decatur, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Tucker walked out without buying anything but immediately returned, pulling out a handgun and allegedly shooting the cashier, since identified as 41 year old woman, Laquitta Willis, shortly after 1 p.m. She was rushed to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.
One of several people in the store at the time of the shooting was a 30-year DeKalb County Police Dept. veteran, who was working with the sheriff’s office as a reserve deputy, DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said.
The off-duty deputy, who was providing security for the store at the time, shot the gunman but was hit twice during the exchange of gunfire, according to the GBI. The bulletproof vest he was wearing likely saved his life, Maddox said.
Suspect tried to crawl out of store after shoot out
‘This is what he is trained to do,’ Maddox said. Reserve deputies are certified law enforcement officers who don’t actively work for an agency and can volunteer or work part time security jobs.
The officer, who authorities didn’t publicly identify, is being treated at Atlanta Medical Center and was in stable condition at the Monday afternoon according to FOX8.
‘He is a stand-up, professional individual and he loves what he does,’ Sheriff Maddox said. ‘As you see, he’s continuing to do what he does to make sure that everybody is safe as they go in and out of that store.’
Dekalb County police officers arrested Tucker as he tried to crawl out of the grocery store, according to the GBI. Tucker was hit ‘a couple of times’ Maddox said and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
A bullet grazed a second cashier who was treated at the scene for her injury, according to the GBI.
A regard outside the Big Bear store stipulated shoppers being required to wear a face mask inside the store 11alive reports.
‘I have a friend who works in this store and I think it was her who got shot and it’s just really sad,’ witness Marquisha White told WSOC-TV. ‘I don’t know what the world is coming to — period.’
Big Bear Store Owner to ban guns in store
The incident led to the owner of Big Bear, who did not give his name telling WSOC-TV that he had hired an off-duty deputy to help enforce the mask policy at the store.
After Monday’s triple shooting, the un-named owner said he was contemplating whether to allow customers to carry any guns inside the store going forward
‘How come they carry all the guns in a public place like that?’ the owner asked, calling the practice ‘bad.’
The owner said Monday night that the victim, Laquitta Willis was a kind, loving, human being, who simply asked a customer–the suspect–to pull up his face mask.
People who frequent the store say the gunman is well known at Big Bear and they believe he may have some mental health issues.
A regard of Victor Lee Tucker, Jr’s prior rap sheet included the Georgia man having a series of prior arrests including, driving under the influence of drugs. Other previous arrests include family domestic battery, cruelty to children along with wilful obstruction of law enforcement officers.
Tucker is facing charges of murder and two counts of aggravated assault according to 11Alive. He remains in a local hospital and is expected to survive.
Monday’s incident was the latest in a slew of ongoing disputes over face masks since the coronavirus made its way in the US last year, with previous altercations also ending up in gun deaths, spitting, assault, urinating and fatal stabbings.
The GBI’s investigation was still ongoing Monday evening and was scheduled to be turned over to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office for review once investigators have finished.
Decatur is an Atlanta suburb located about 6 miles east of downtown.