In a fatal assault, a man shot his estranged wife and her lover to death in a parking lot outside the Walmart store in Duncan Oklahoma on Monday morning. Later, the man identified as Yayo Varela Jr killed himself too.
During the incident, many rounds were fired by the shooter into the red, two-door car that had the victims sitting inside. The deceased were found on the front seats of the car, while the shooter laid dead on the ground near the driver's side of the vehicle. Bullet holes were visible in the windshield of the car.
As per the Duncan police department, the victims were visiting the money centre inside the store before the fatal incident. Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said that they received a 911 call at 9.53 am. "It appears several rounds were fired into the car, and a handgun was recovered at the scene," Ford said, estimating that nine shots were fired.
"It appears that the shooter opened fire with a handgun and at one point walked up to the car, but it wasn't clear whether he started firing at first from on foot or from another vehicle," added Ford.
"A man and a woman who were sitting in the driver's side and passenger seats were found fatally shot. The gunman was found dead outside the car. The victims knew the suspect," said the police chief further adding that the police will release the victims' names after notifying their families.
According to the eyewitnesses, the shooter fired nine rounds into the parked car before killing himself after an armed citizen confronted him. Family members, who reached the spot, identified the shooter as Yayo Varela Jr, the estranged husband of one of the victims. Without divulging any further details, they said that a domestic dispute between the shooter and his wife resulted in the fatal incident.
In a press release, Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said that no staff members were involved in the shooting and the store was not evacuated. "'This was an isolated incident in the parking lot and was not an active shooter situation,' Jenkins said.
Following the shooting, as a precautionary measure, the Duncan Public School placed local schools on lockdown. "Duncan Public Schools is aware of the report of a shooting at Duncan Wal-Mart. As always, we are taking every precaution to protect our staff and students. At this time all schools are in lockdown due to this report. Schools will operate as normal, but visitors will not be admitted until police report it is safe," said the school officials. The lockdown was lifted around 11.30 am.
Located about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, Duncan's Walmart shooting comes months after a mass shooting occurred at a branch of the American multinational retail corporation in El Paso, Texas, United States on August 3, 2019. 22 people were killed and 24 injured in the incident.
On Sunday night, a shooter killed four people and wounded six others during a football watch party in Fresno, California. Last week, a shooter at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, killed two students and injured three others before shooting himself in the head.
Recently, on November 1, 2019, a law was passed making Oklahoma even more gun-friendly by eliminating the license requirement for carrying concealed handguns. Until then, the state allowed most adults to carry guns openly without a permit as long as they have a 'legitimate purpose and aren't violating other laws'.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the US has seen more than 370 mass shootings in 2019. It defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, were shot but not necessarily killed.
Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement about the shooting: "I am deeply grieved by the tragedy that took place this morning in Duncan. Worlds were indeed shaken and changed forever by this devasting incident, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, many loved ones and the entire Duncan community."
"As we await answers on what led to the incident, I remain confident in members of our law enforcement to investigate and keep us all appropriately informed."