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Suspect identified in fatal shooting at Walmart distribution center in California

Location of a shooting at a Walmart distribution center near Red Bluff, Calif., on Saturday.
Location of a shooting at a Walmart distribution center near Red Bluff, Calif., on Saturday.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Tehama County sheriff’s officials on Sunday identified the suspect in a shooting the day before at a Walmart distribution center in Red Bluff that killed one person and injured several others before the man was fatally shot by police.

The suspect, Louis Lane, 31, of Redding, was a former employee of the distribution center who was fired in February 2019 after he failed to show up for a shift, according to the sheriff’s department, which is handling the investigation. Authorities said they are still investigating a possible motive for the shooting but said they believe Lane acted alone.

Lane died after engaging Red Bluff police officers in a gun battle in the parking lot, officials said.

The shooting unfolded within six chaotic minutes that began shortly after 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Walmart distribution center on Highway 99, the sheriff’s department said in a news release.

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Lane allegedly circled the parking lot four times in a white SUV and then crashed his vehicle into the lobby of the building. As the SUV caught fire, he exited holding a semiautomatic rifle and began shooting randomly into the building, the sheriff’s department said.

Hundreds of employees were working inside at the time, Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told reporters Saturday night, but most of them were not near the lobby area. The rifle was outfitted with a high-capacity magazine that’s illegal in California, he said.

About four minutes after authorities received reports of shots fired, a police officer arrived on the scene and exchanged gunfire with Lane in the parking lot, officials said. A second officer arrived moments later and also engaged Lane, according to investigators. A total of 20 to 30 rounds were exchanged during the shootout among the parked cars, Johnston estimated.

One or both of the officers shot Lane, and by 3:38 p.m., he was disabled by his injuries, the sheriff’s department said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

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Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene and found that one Walmart employee had suffered serious injuries. They rushed him to a local hospital, where he died. Authorities identified him as Martin Haro-Lozano, of Orland. The cause of his death was not immediately released pending an autopsy scheduled for Monday.

Haro-Lozano had been an employee of the company for 12 years, and had family and friends who also worked at the distribution center, Walmart said in a statement.

“This is a deeply painful moment — not only for the Red Bluff facility but for the entire Walmart family,” said the statement, which was signed by Chief Executive John Furner and executive vice president of supply chain Greg Smith.

Six other people were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to moderate, the sheriff’s department said. At least one person appeared to have been struck by the SUV, and others were injured by gunfire, Johnston said. At least two people were treated and released, he said.

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“We are incredibly thankful to the associates in the building who acted heroically to prevent the situation from being even worse,” Furner and Smith said. “They risked their lives to help their fellow associates, and we are forever grateful to them.”

The distribution center has been temporarily closed, but employees will be paid and have access to on-site help, the statement said.

The Tehama County Sheriff’s Department is overseeing the criminal investigation into the shooting, while the county District Attorney’s Office was investigating the officer-involved portion and a California Highway Patrol accident investigation team was investigating the crash.

The state Department of Justice also was on scene helping to process evidence, the sheriff’s office said.


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