DeKalb cashier shot to death after mask dispute, authorities say

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The retired deputy tried to intervene after a man pulled out a gun and began shooting at a woman inside the store, authorities said.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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A cashier at a DeKalb County supermarket was fatally shot Monday after she argued with a shopper about wearing his face mask, officials said.

The shopper, identified as Victor Lee Tucker Jr., 30, of Palmetto, initially left the Big Bear Supermarket after the argument but came back with a gun, according to the GBI. The volatile incident also resulted in injury to an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working as a security guard, who tried to intervene and was shot during an exchange of gunfire.

The GBI is investigating the shooting, which brought a large police presence to the store in the parking lot of the Gallery at South DeKalb Mall on Monday afternoon.

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The woman, whose name has not been released, died at Grady Memorial Hospital. Tucker and the off-duty DeKalb deputy were still being treated at hospitals Monday night, Sheriff Melody Maddox said during a news conference.

The deputy, a retired DeKalb County police officer who worked in the reserve unit, was hit twice by gunfire but was wearing a bulletproof vest, according to Maddox. He was taken to Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, where he was in stable condition, she said. His name was not released.

Maddox said the argument was “in reference to wearing a mask.” According to the GBI’s initial investigation, Tucker left the supermarket following the argument without making a purchase, but immediately returned.

Several other people were inside the store when gunfire erupted about 1:10 p.m., the sheriff said.

“Tucker walked directly back to the cashier, pulled out a handgun and shot her,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in a news release. “Tucker then began shooting at a (DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office) deputy who was attempting to intervene while working off-duty at the supermarket. The deputy and Tucker exchanged gunfire, and both were wounded during the shootout.”

A second cashier was grazed by a bullet, Miles said. Tucker was trying to crawl out of the supermarket’s front doors when he was stopped and arrested by two responding DeKalb police officers, she said.

He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was said to be stable Monday night. Maddox said she believed the man was shot multiple times.

The incident is the 41st shooting involving a law enforcement officer that the GBI has investigated this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.