FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Finding a motive for a deadly shooting at a Wal-Mart store in northeastern North Dakota will be difficult, even though investigators expect to get more details from witnesses, a police spokesman said Thursday.
“I’m not confident that we’re going to be able to find that. We’re going to look for it,” Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said.
Authorities say Grand Forks Air Force Base Senior Airman Marcell Willis, 21, walked into the store early Tuesday in Grand Forks and shot and killed overnight cashier Gregory Weiland, 70. Willis then shot and wounded overnight grocery general manager Lisa Braun, 47, who’s recovering in a hospital.
Willis shot at a third worker and missed, then killed himself.
As the Wal-Mart reopened Thursday, police said they had no new details about the case.
“There is something that I would I like to say but I can’t find the words right now,” Willis’ father, Sean Willis of Nashville, Tennessee, told The Associated Press over the phone as he fought back tears.
Police say Marcell Willis, of Springfield, Tennessee, drove to Wal-Mart with two passengers who had no idea what Willis was about to do. The passengers stayed in the car while Willis went inside. The two people, whom police would not identify, thought up until the next day that Willis was a victim.
“They were as surprised as anybody else,” Zimmel said. “They were afraid he was killed by somebody else.”
Zimmel said the two passengers will be among many witnesses at the scene who will likely be interviewed multiple times by police.
“Their memories are probably going to gain some clarity from the incident with a little time and distance from it,” he said.
Weiland’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, where he was an active member of the parish, the Rev. Gerard Braun said. Weiland would take his mother-in-law to Mass on Sunday mornings and serve as a hospitality greeter for the Sunday afternoon service, Braun said.
“He had a good heart and a good sense of humor,” Braun said. “He saw joy in life.”
Weiland will be buried at St. Bernard’s Catholic Cemetery in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, in the area where he spent much of his life farming.
His family members have not responded to interview requests, but a longtime neighbor in rural Minnesota said Weiland remained upbeat during tough times, including the death of his first wife after 47 years of marriage.
“He had a happy-go-lucky attitude and smiled all the time,” said Blake Owens, who knew Weiland for 30 years. “After all the struggles he had been through, it was just so impressive he could be so positive.”
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