WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — A man suspected of shooting three Stop & Shop employees in West Hempstead on Long Island has a criminal history involving gun violence and was previously hospitalized for mental health crises, officials said Wednesday.
Suspect Gabriel DeWitt Wilson was taken into custody on Tuesday at an apartment building on Terrace Avenue in Hempstead, hours after he fatally shot a store manager and injured two employees, police said.
He was arraigned Wednesday morning and charged with one count of murder in the second degree and four counts of attempted murder, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a briefing.
Wilson, 31, was a cart collector at the supermarket, officials said. He also previously worked at a Stop & Shop in Long Beach, commanding officer of Nassau’s homicide squad Stephen Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick described Wilson as a “troubled employee” who made unwanted advances toward women colleagues and had disputes with other coworkers. Employees told investigators he was brought into the manager’s office to discuss workplace conduct on several occasions.
On the day of the shooting, Wilson initially approached his manager about transferring to a Stop & Shop in Hempstead, Fitzpatrick said.
“It was non-confrontational at that time. It lasted approximately 1 to 2 minutes, that conversation. 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 said.
Wilson walked back into work Tuesday morning, headed to the second floor of the building and opened fire on multiple workers inside an office, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. He then walked down the hall to a second office and fatally shot a manager inside, according to the commissioner.
Police received 911 calls about an active shooter in the store, located on Cherry Valley Road, shortly before 11:20 a.m.
The store manager, identified as Ray Wishropp, 49, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Ryder. The two employees who were wounded, a 50-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were taken to a hospital and expected to survive. Police said Wilson shot at two other employees, but they were not injured.
Wilson’s arrest history dates to July 2006, Ryder said, and includes a 2014 shootout in Baltimore during which he was shot in the head. He was charged with with second-degree attempted murder and possession of a firearm, but Ryder said that case is ongoing.
“But he was out in the streets here in Nassau County,” he added.
Wilson also has arrests on record in Baltimore stemming from an alleged assault in 2006 and an alleged attempt to distribute narcotics in 2011, and he had two mental health crisis incidents in Nassau County, one in 2016 and another in 2019, according to Ryder.
Investigators believe Wilson arrived in Nassau County in 2017 or 2018.
He has multiple known addresses in Nassau County, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether the Terrace Avenue address was his primary residence but investigators are treating it as such since it’s where he was taken into custody, Ryder added.
Police on Wednesday were still looking for the weapon used in the shooting. Fitzpatrick said they believe it’s a 380-caliber semi-automatic handgun. Detectives were retracing Wilson’s steps Wednesday afternoon in an effort to locate where he might have hid it.