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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Murder-suicide at Florida shopping mall

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a shooting at the Melbourne Square Mall (AP Photo/Florida Today, Malcolm Denemark)
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a shooting at the Melbourne Square Mall
(AP Photo/Florida Today, Malcolm Denemark)

A Florida man who had “several pockets full of ammunition” targeted his wife in a shooting that killed two people at a mall food court where the woman worked, police said.

Authorities said the Saturday morning shooting happened about a half hour before the mall was to open to customers. Jose Garcia-Rodriguez, 57, of Palm Bay, died at a hospital following an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at Melbourne Square Mall, said Cmdr. Vince Pryce of Melbourne Police.

The man’s 33-year-old wife, Idanerys Garcia-Rodriguez, was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and was in good condition late Saturday, Pryce said. A police statement later identified her as a worker at the mall’s food court.

“The survivor is the intended victim,” he said.

Offices said they responded to reports of multiple gunshots around 9:30 a.m, when about about 100 people were in the mall getting stores ready for a 10 a.m. opening to shoppers.

“We were still hearing shots when the first officers arrived on scene,” Pryce said.

Officers evacuated the mall, assisting some employees who had locked themselves in closets when they heard gunfire, Pryce said.

Another man died in the shooting. His name was not released, and Pryce said his relationship to the Garcias remained under investigation and was unknown late Saturday. No one else in the mall was killed or wounded, police later said.

When officers found the three victims, Garcia “had several pockets full of ammunition,” Pryce said. Police subsequently said investigators recovered three handguns at the site, along with the ammunition, believed to belong to the suspect.

“We believe this may stem from a domestic violence incident,” he said.

Mall officials posted a statement to Facebook, saying the mall would remain closed until further notice while police continued their investigation. Pryce said authorities planned for the mall to reopen Sunday.

Local television news broadcasts showed yellow police tape stretched across a mall entrance and parking lot.

Donna Evans of Melbourne said she was in the food court when she heard gunfire about 20 feet to 25 feet away.

“We had just gotten our food to sit down by Starbucks and Chik-fil-A, and you just hear the ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’ and you just drop everything and your body just makes you run,” Evans told Florida Today.


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