Timothy J. Wall was struggling with mental health issues before he walked into a Florida Publix on Thursday and shot a grandmother, his nearly 2-year-old grandson, and then himself. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Friday it was still investigating what specifically led to the shooting.
Major Talal Masri said on Friday that the gunman first shot the child at the Royal Palm Beach grocery store and the 69-year-old “instinctively rushes in and tries to stop him.” A struggle ensued, Masri said.
Office tweeted a timeline of the shooting saying, “Because of his brave actions, (Wall’s) gun gets stuck. After some difficulty, he ends up shooting grandma and then himself.”
Sheriff officials have said they are barred by law from disclosing the names of victims.
The randomness of the shooting at a popular supermarket chain, coupled with the uncertainty over the motive, propelled the crime into the national spotlight this week. Authorities and the public sought answers on the reasons for the tragedy on Friday.
Authorities and Wall’s family described him on Friday as a financially troubled person struggling with mental health issues.
“He had mental issues. He wasn’t taking care of himself,” said Maia Knight, sister of Wall’s ex-wife Monica Sandra Wall.
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She said Timothy Wall was not getting the help he needed for his mental illness, which she described as schizophrenia.
The sheriff’s office said in a tweeted statement that there were warning signs before the shooting: “The suspect was on Facebook saying he wanted to kill people and children.”
Wall married Monica Sandra Wall in 2003. The couple divorced in July 2017. They have a 14-year-old daughter.
A Palm Beach County Circuit judge had allowed Timothy Wall to live in his marital home for a few months, but in May 2019, Monica Sandra Wall kicked out her ex-husband from his Royal Palm Beach residence, court records show.
Royal Palm Beach is a middle-class suburb of 40,000 residents, approximately 12 miles from downtown West Palm Beach and 15 miles inland from Palm Beach.
Wall worked as a carpenter for a temp agency, was legally evicted from his ex-wife’s home and filed for bankruptcy, according to records. He appeared to be living in motels before the shooting, according to records.
Sarah Brown, a hairstylist at the Festive Cuts beauty salon in Publix Square, said Publix customers and employees took refuge at the company after the shooting.
“It was a normal day. I just had a consultation with my client, I went to the back room to mix her color,” she said in a Facebook post. “Then all of a sudden like a barrel of monkeys of about 15 people – two, even with carts, rushed into our little living room screaming ‘Active Shooter!
She asked the receptionist in the salon to hold the door open as people rushed in, much panicked and hysterical.
“Sadly a few people saw this happen and I can’t even imagine how horrible it was to see,” she said.
In a video message released Friday, Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto released a statement regarding the Publix shooting: “What happened was too tragic, too familiar. Our hearts ache with the family. We share. their pain, we share their anger. “
Contribution: The Associated Press