Police: Walmart employee fatally shoots ex-girlfriend, himself at Hiram store

A shooting inside a Walmart in Hiram that claimed the lives of two people Wednesday night is being investigated as murder-suicide, police said.

The victims, 20-year-old Zoey Messenger and 26-year-old James Norton, died at a hospital, Hiram police Chief Mike Turner confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No one else was injured by the gunfire at the store on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway, where Norton was an employee.

According to Turner, the two had been involved in a relationship that had ended.

“It appears that the male subject approached the female and there was a brief conversation, which did not appear to be angry or animated,” the police chief said in a news release. “The male then pulled a handgun and shot the female, and then turned the weapon on himself.”

The gunfire sparked panic inside the store shortly before 7:30 p.m. Shopper Devani Lopez said he heard two pops, but the sounds did not register as gunshots until people started running for the exits.

“My heart dropped. There was so much to process in my head,” Lopez told Channel 2 Action News as he waited in the parking lot Wednesday night. “At first I thought there’s no way this is really happening.”

As the store evacuated, responding police officers rushed in to sweep the building. Messenger and Norton were found lying in between two aisles near a single handgun, which was recovered by the senior officer at the scene, Turner said.

The first responders attempted first aid on the former couple before they were taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. Turner said Wednesday that while the store was full of shoppers and employees, they had not located any eyewitnesses to the shooting.

“The Hiram Police Department has no record of any previous calls from either person about domestic violence or threats prior to this incident,” he said, extending the condolences of his department to both of their families.

A Walmart spokesperson said Wednesday the location would remain closed while they worked with law enforcement during their investigation. The store is expected to reopen Friday morning.

“We’re heartbroken by what happened at our Hiram store tonight. Our priority, right now, is the safety of our associates and customers,” the company said in a statement.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.