Sheriff: Publix gunman wanted ‘to kill people and children’
Timothy Wall, the Florida man who fatally shot a grandmother and her grandson inside a Publix supermarket, before turning the gun on himself, wanted to kill people and children, according to comments made on his Facebook account, according to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and that makes him really mad.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, Sheriff Bradshaw said this tragedy could have been avoided if someone had stepped forward and notified police about his strange behavior.
“He’s on Facebook. He has said, ‘I want to kill people and children.’ He’s got friends. Obviously, they saw that,” said Bradshaw. “His ex-wife said he’s been acting strange. He thinks he is being followed. He’s paranoid. You think a damn soul told us about that? No!”
Investigators say 55-year-old Wall, with no previous criminal record, simply walked into the Publix supermarket on Thursday, and killed the nearly 2-year-old boy and his 69-year-old grandmother in the produce department.
Police Major Talal Masri revealed the timeline of events at the news conference based on store surveillance video saying it was 11:31 a.m. when the grandmother “left the cart in front of her as she’s walking looking at items.” At 11:34 a.m., Masri said, “He pulls out his gun, walks over from one behind one aisle to the next where the child was parked in his little shopping cart. He takes his gun, and he fires one round killing the child. The grandma instinctively jumped in and tried to stop him. She struggled with him and his gun jams. He was able to overpower, push her down to the ground. And he shoots her down while she’s on the ground.”
Right after that, Wall shot himself in the head.
Watch the PBSO new release from by CBS Miami below:
The names of the grandmother and her grandson won’t be released. Officials say their family invoked Marsy’s Law, which allows victims of crimes to block information that could be used to locate or harass them or their families from being made public.
Sheriff Bradshaw said, again, there is no known relationship between Wall and the victims.
Bradshaw said, “Obviously there’s a mental illness involved in this,” and “somebody knew about it. That bad things were going to happen with this guy.”
It’s the reason Florida’s ‘red flag law’ was enacted.
“We have the red flag law, where we can take the firearm once we find the people. So that’s how this could have been prevented. If somebody would have let us know who he is, we would have contacted him, see if he’s got a gun, get him into mental health, and you wouldn’t have two people dead. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And that’s how it can work if people will only get involved,” said Sheriff Bradshaw.
The red flag law was enacted in response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The purpose of the law is to disarm potentially dangerous individuals by empowering judges to order surrender of firearms from those with mental health issues.
Dr. Laura Streyffeler, a licensed mental health counselor, told WINK News situations when there is a lack of speaking up to prevent trauma happens often, and the answer is simple — fear. People fear they could be labeled a snitch or even fear they might become a victim too.
“Very often, that costs somebody their life,” Streyffeler said. “If something very terrible does happen, then, you’re dealing with the guilt of not having done something”
Streyffeler told us the guilt of knowing that stepping up could have prevented tragedy can sometimes be as traumatic as the tragedy itself.
“When people stay silent, they not only don’t help a victim or potential victim, they impower a perpetrator,” Streyffeler said.
According to state records, Wall and his ex-wife once owned a dry-cleaning business in the Publix shopping center. It is unclear when it closed.
Wall declared bankruptcy earlier this year after falling deeply into debt, federal court records show.
In his bankruptcy filing, Wall listed $6,000 in assets, including $9 in checking, $18 in savings, $4,100 in a stock trading account, $740 in bitcoin, and a $300 gun. He said he earned $24,000 last year as a laborer working through a temp agency and his mode of transportation was a $600 scooter.
Police found the red scooter in the parking lot.
Meanwhile, he had accumulated more than $215,000 in debts, most of it owed on the home his ex-wife now owns, the bankruptcy file shows. She divorced him in 2018 and he had signed over their house to her in 2019, Palm Beach County court records show.
“Somebody needs to get involved,” Sheriff Bradshaw said. “People need to get involved, and we need to wake up to this problem, so a whole bunch of people don’t get killed across this country.”
The deadly shooting remains under investigation.
Fort Myers Police Department told WINK News it has analysts and intel officers who monitor social media, but FMPD says sometimes things fall through the cracks.
WINK News also learned Friday the 1-year-old’s father works for a police department.