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Employee requested transfer before deadly Long Island grocery store shooting, police say

A “troubled employee,” who killed a supermarket manager and wounded two co-workers, asked to be transferred from his Long Island store 40 minutes before opening fire, police said Wednesday.

But it still wasn’t immediately clear what might have prompted suspect Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, to take deadly action at a Stop & Shop filled with customers late Tuesday morning in West Hempstead, according to the Nassau County Police Department.

Manager Ray Wishropp, 49 of Valley Stream, was fatally shot with a .387-caliber semiautomatic pistol, authorities said.

Wilson fired seven shots at five people, striking Wishropp, a 50-year-old man from Bethpage and a 26-year-old woman from Bayshore, according to officials. The wounded man was grazed on the cheek and struck twice in shoulder. The woman was hit once in the shoulder, police said.

Before the gunfire erupted in the second-floor manager’s office, Wilson had been at that very location asking to be transferred to another Stop & Shop location in Hempstead, Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

“It was not confrontational at that time,” Fitzpatrick told reporters on Wednesday. “He left the building without any violence or anything else being said. Forty minutes later, he returned to the building and you know the rest. He walked right up to the offices, opened fire on five individuals.”

There was apparently no hint that Wilson’s transfer request was at issue or would be denied.

“He was told to have the (Hempstead) manager call him (West Hempstead managers),” Fitzpatrick said. “He (Wilson) was going to have to fill out a form and that would happen. It was uneventful.”

Wilson, who worked as a shopping cart collector, had ongoing issues with his co-workers and had been hauled into meetings with managers on a number of occasions, police said.

“Gabriel was a troubled employee and in the months previous to this incident he was having unwanted advances toward females that worked there,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was having disputes with other workers and threatening them and was brought into the management office several times.”

Representatives for unions representing workers at that Stop & Shop could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

The suspect was caught at a nearby apartment building on Terrance Avenue in Hempstead. The gun used in Tuesday’s shooting was not immediately found.

“Detectives are out right now retracing his steps trying to … find the gun,” Fitzpatrick said

Wilson was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. If convicted of all charges, he could spend anywhere from 25 years to life in prison, according to the DA.

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf during an arraignment on Wednesday, NBC New York reported. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, according to the news station.

The store is expected to remain closed until Sunday morning, as police continue their investigation there.

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