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Police still looking for motive in shooting at Indiana grocery store

Crime, Law and JusticeShootingsCrimeLaw Enforcement

Indiana police said Thursday that they had not yet determined a motive for the gunman who shot and killed a store employee and shopper at Martin's Super Market in Elkhart before he was killed by officers.

The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Shawn Walter Bair, "may have had some type of relationship with the victims or the store" but they are still investigating, State Police Sgt. Trent Smith told the Los Angeles Times.

Video surveillance shows Bair entering the store about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, wandering the aisles and peering at his cellphone before opening fire about 10:05 p.m., Smith said. Bair was armed with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a large hunting knife.

"The gunman shot and killed a store worker. He then attempted to shoot another store worker, but he ran away and was able to escape," Smith said. "That's when the gunman went and killed a patron of the store a couple of minutes later. After he killed her, he rounded the corner and came face to face with the store manager."

Smith said Elkhart police arrived at the supermarket about 10:10 p.m., three minutes after getting a 911 call, just as the gunman was waving his gun at and taunting the store manager, who was on his knees in a praying position. Bair was then shot and killed.

Both victims -- a 20-year-old female employee of Martin's and a 44-year-old female patron of the store -- were pronounced dead at the scene. Their bodies were found about 12 aisles apart. Their names will not be released until relatives notified, Smith said. 

Twelve to 15 people were in the store when police arrived, Smith said.

"The store was basically empty," he said. "The gunman fired seven to eight gunshots ... as shoppers realized what was happening, they started to hide or run from the store when they saw an opportunity."

Martin's Super Markets posted on its Facebook page that the store would  be closed Thursday.

"The entire Martin's family is saddened by this tragedy," Rob Bartels,  president and chief executive, said in a news release.

The company will be offering counseling services to employees on Thursday and "for as long as necessary," he said.

Bartels also  thanked the community for its thoughts and prayers. 

"We know that the quick response from Elkhart police saved lives, and  for that we will be forever grateful," Bartels said.

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saba.hamedy@latimes.com

Twitter: @saba_h

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