Damon Arthur and Alayna Shulman
Redding Record Searchlight
Published 4: 22 AM EDT Jun 28, 2020
Update at 1 a.m. Sunday
Tehama County sheriff’s officials early Sunday morning said the Red Bluff Walmart Distribution Center shooting suspect, who was killed in a gunfight with police, was fired from the center last year.
The suspect, Louis Lane, 31, of Redding was fired from the distribution center in February 2019 because he did not show up for work, sheriff’s officials said.
Lane showed up at the distribution center at about 3: 30 p.m. Saturday and crashed his sport-utility vehicle into the employee entrance to the building, officials said. After the SUV caught fire, Lane got out and opened fire inside the building.
Red Bluff police were the first to arrive and in the parking lot of the center they exchanged gunfire with Lane, who was shooting a semi-automatic rifle, officials said. The second officer on the scene seriously wounded Lane. He was taken to hospital where he died, officials said.
Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said the rifle’s magazine was illegal in California because it held more than 10 rounds.
Two are dead, including the suspect, and four are hurt after a shooting at the Red Bluff Walmart distribution center, the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Saturday. The victim killed — an employee at the facility — has been identified as Martin Haro-Lozano, 45, of Orland.
Allison Hendrickson, a spokeswoman for Dignity Health North State, said four patients were in fair condition at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff and two had died. She wasn’t immediately sure whether there were other victims at another hospital.
Little on the investigation has come out so far, but Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said deputies have determined the shooter circled the parking lot four times before crashing into the building and opening fire with a semiautomatic long gun.
At least one person was struck by the suspect’s car, Johnston said. He said the shooter was able to enter the facility, where he shot at random. Johnston couldn’t provide details on when and where during the attack people were injured.
The shooter’s multi-round magazine held more than 10 rounds, making it illegal in California, Johnston said.
There also was a fire at the location, and the suspect appears to have rammed a vehicle into the building, officials said. Johnston could not say whether the fire started from the crash or if it was intentionally lit.
Johnston said later in the evening that the suspect and one victim, an employee, were dead. The suspect, a 31-year-old who still hasn’t been identified, also has a history with the workplace, Johnston said. He added that it has been about a year and a half since then. The motive still hasn’t been determined, he said.
Red Bluff police engaged in gunfire with the suspect shortly after, and he underwent surgery for a gunshot wound, Johnston said.
“I would estimate 20 to 30 rounds exchanged,” he said, noting that there were so many bullets fired the investigators did not yet have an accurate count.
Chief Kyle Sanders said the officers fired after the suspect first fired at them “multiple times.” The two officers who fired the shots are on paid administrative leave pending a routine investigation into the shooting of the suspect, Sanders said.
Meanwhile, officials initially said they hadn’t figured out whether the shooting is related to one earlier in the day in Shingletown, but Johnston later said they were separate incidents. Shasta County Sheriff’s officials have not responded to multiple requests for information about the Shingletown incident, and California Highway Patrol spokespeople referred all questions about it to the sheriff.
Scott Thammakhanty, an employee at the facility’s receiving center who unloads trucks, said he heard the shooter fire from what he judged to be a semi-automatic weapon.
“It went on and on — I don’t even know how many times he fired,” Thammakhanty said. “I just know it was a lot.”
Thammakhanty and others started running for their lives, and he saw people lying on the ground as he went, he said.
The shooter looked familiar to Thammakhanty, but he didn’t know his identity.
Vince Krick was waiting outside because his wife and son work at the facility. They weren’t hurt, but Krick was anxiously waiting to be reunited with them.
“It was real crazy, because, you know, you can’t do nothing,” Krick said.
Krick was on the way to pick up his wife when he saw the flames, he said. His wife texted that she was OK, but told him not to come to the front entrance.
The shooting happened right when a new group of workers starts their shift, he said.
Krick’s wife, a manager, was able to get some employees out the back of the building, he said.
Dispatchers reported at least one person had been shot, though the extent of injuries wasn’t immediately clear. A man had also reported his leg being run over when the shooter rammed a vehicle into the facility.
A woman was reportedly bleeding after jumping over a barbed-wire fence to escape.
“We need to get these people out of here,” a dispatcher said.
Dispatchers said they needed all units to respond to the facility on Highway 99 south of Red Bluff.
The suspect was described as being in a white vehicle that had wedged into the building and had what dispatchers believed was an assault-style weapon. The shooter was in the middle of the parking lot, dispatchers said.
Deputies said a fire had broken out by the time the suspect was detained and they couldn’t get into the building because of the blaze. Johnston said it wasn’t clear whether the suspect started the fire on purpose or the crash caused it.
The extent of any fatalities or injuries was not yet clear.
In an email, Walmart director of national media relations Scott Pope said the company is “aware of the situation” and working with law enforcement to investigate.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” Pope wrote. “Our focus is on supporting our associates, as well as their families and co-workers in the facility. This is an active police investigation and we will continue to work with Tehama County Sheriff’s Office and assist in their investigation in any way possible.”
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Damon Arthur is the Record Searchlight’s resources and environment reporter. He is among the first on the scene at breaking news incidents, reporting real time on Twitter at @damonarthur_RS. Damon is part of a dedicated team of journalists who investigate wrongdoing and find the unheard voices to tell the stories of the North State. He welcomes story tips at 530-338-8834 and [email protected] Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!
Alayna Shulman covers a little bit of everything for the Record Searchlight. In particular, she loves writing about the issues of this community through long-form storytelling. Her work often centers on local crime, features and politics, and has won awards for best writing, best business coverage and best investigative reporting in the California News Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. Follow her on Twitter (@ashulman_RS), call her at 530-225-8372 and, to support her work, please subscribe.