On Monday, a cashier working at a Decatur, Ga., supermarket was shot dead by a customer who she had asked to wear his face mask properly while he was in the store. On Tuesday, DeKalb County police identified that cashier as 41-year-old Laquitta Willis.
ABC News reports that the alleged shooter has also been identified as 30-year-old Victor Lee Tucker Jr., who is now charged with murder and aggravated assault.
The shooting took place around 1 p.m. Monday at Decatur’s Big Bear Supermarket where Tucker is alleged to have gotten into an argument with Willis over how he was wearing his face mask. Tucker reportedly stormed out of the store without making a purchase only to return moments later, walk directly up to Willis, pull out his gun and shoot her, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
After allegedly shooting Willis, Tucker reportedly exchanged gunfire with DeKalb County Reserves Deputy Danny Jordan, who was shot twice but was saved by his bulletproof vest. Jordan was off-duty and was working as a store security guard at the time. He was hospitalized after the shooting but remained in “stable condition” as of Tuesday, ABC reports. Tucker was also wounded in the firefight and was hospitalized but is expected to recover. According to the Washington Post, a second cashier was also wounded during the firefight and sustained injuries that were not life-threatening.
This was about as senseless as senseless crimes get. Many would agree that the pandemic has caused essential workers to be unfairly burdened with having to enforce mask mandates and other COVID precautions. In most cases, all that means is that a worker might have the unpleasant experience of having to argue with hard-headed customers who refuse to adhere to the rules, but Willis’ story proves the potential that these confrontations have to turn violent and even deadly.
United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents grocery store employees, said in a statement that Willis was shot and killed for “simply doing her job.”
From the Post:
“For too long, many of our leaders have failed to consider how the changing COVID guidelines affect America’s essential workers who face daily exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks,” the union’s president, Marc Perrone, said in a statement. “When workers are forced to play mask and vaccination police, they put their lives at risk.”
Ray Kim, who owns the store, described Willis as a kind and loving woman whose family he had known for 15 years. Kim told Atlanta’s 11 Alive News that before the shooting, she had asked Tucker to pull up his mask and did nothing to provoke him.
“He had a mask” on his face, Kim told 11 Alive News. “She is just a very cautious person, so she had asked him to pull up his mask. He refused and walked out, came back in, and did that.”
The Post noted that, while many states have loosened or eliminated mask mandates and other pandemic restrictions, some cities and businesses have opted to keep certain measures in place. Decatur’s mask ordinance is set to expire next Monday but it was still in place at the time Willis was shot.