SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A man fired randomly from his vehicle several times while driving through a southwest Missouri city before eventually crashing into a convenience store, where he walked inside, opened fire and left five people dead, including a police officer and himself, police said Monday.
The dead from Sunday night's shooting include a store employee and two men who were in the store, police said. A second officer was injured, along with another person.
The gunman's motives remain unclear, Springfield police Chief Paul Williams said at a news conference, where his voice broke as he described his officers' actions.
Williams said police received reports of “multiple shooting calls throughout the city” late Sunday starting in the south and moving north through the city's east side.
"In essence we had a roving active shooter moving from the south side of the city up," Williams said.
As officers were responding to those calls, witnesses reported a vehicle crashed into a Kum & Go. gas station and convenience store, and the gunman walked inside and began shooting customers and employees, Williams said.
The Kansas City Star reported that the gunman opened fire from inside the store as police arrived, with officers taking cover behind vehicles and shields.
“Advise everybody arriving on the scene, the shooter is shooting out the window,” one officer can be heard saying on audio captured by the online website Broadcastify.com, The Star reported. “The officer shot from inside the store outside. Take cover behind vehicles.”
The first two officers who arrived were shot. Other officers pulled the injured officers from the store and then went inside, finding three people dead. The gunman also died, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot, Williams said. Police identified the shooter as 31-year-old Joaquin S. Roman of Springfield.
Officer Christopher Walsh, 32, was shot and killed as he tried to rescue a victim, Williams said. He was with the Springfield police for 3 1/2 years, was an Army veteran and was active in the Army reserves.
Walsh, a Springfield native, is survived by a wife and daughter.
“Chris died a hero, rushing in without regard to his own safety to protect members of his community. His courageous actions serve as an example to us all,” Wiliams said in a news release.
Police identified the three other men who died as 57-year-old Troy D. Rapp, who was employed by Kum-N-Go, 46-year-old Shannon R. Perkins, who was employed by WCA Waste Corporation, and 22-year-old store customer Matthew J. Hicks-Morris. All were from Springfield.
Officer Josiah Overton, whose injuries are not life-threatening, has been with Springfield police for two years, he said.
“Both officers showed significant bravery and were heroic in their actions,” Williams said.
“There are no word to express the shock and sorrow many of us are feeling,” Kum & Go spokesman Aeriel Rubin said, adding “We remain grateful for the courage of our first responders and will do our utmost to support the investigation going forward.”
A Springfield woman said the man fired at her as she was driving home from work about 11:30 p.m. Casey Parrish said the man was driving in front of her and everything seemed normal until she heard what she thought at first was a blown tire. Then she saw muzzle flashes from from the driver's side of the car in front of her, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
Parrish said she did nothing to provoke the shooting and the gunman was driving normally until just before the shots started. He fired seven or eight shots as his car was swerving but her car was not hit. Parrish said she slowed down and the suspect eventually turned off of Highway 65 away from her. When she called 911, she was told officers were investigating similar reports from other locations.
"It was so surreal," Parrish said.
Williams said it was too early to comment on the impact the shooting had on his department.
“We're still investigating multiple crime scenes and dealing with grieving the loss of one of our own,” he said.