Louisiana Sheriff on Fatal Gun Shop Riot: ‘I Don’t Know Why’


The Louisiana gun store customer who opened fire in a sudden shooting showed no signs of anger or agitation before his attack at the New Orleans-area store, the local sheriff said Monday.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto confirmed during a press conference two days after Joshua Williams allegedly shot and killed two people before he, too, was mortally wounded, that the 27-year-old had a permit. legal to carry a weapon and instigated the exchange of shooting Saturday afternoon at the Gun Outlet in suburban Metairie.

“The fact is, I don’t know if we’ll ever know why this happened.”

– Jefferson Joe Lopinto Parish Sheriff

But the attack is still marked by mystery.

“I don’t know why,” Lopinto said during the briefing. “There are certain crimes that happen in your career and this is the only one for me: there is no reason why this event should ever have become.”

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Joshua Williams walked into the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metairie on Saturday with his brother, Timothy Williams, and his brother’s two children, ages 7 and 9, reportedly to buy ammunition, Lopinto said.

“They were in the store for about seven minutes, talking to the employees, collecting the ammunition they needed,” Lopinto said.

But Joshua Williams broke one of the store’s rules, as he had a loaded gun with an extended magazine, which is not allowed until a person reaches the firing range.

When the store clerk saw the gun, he asked Joshua Williams if it was loaded and he said no. The employee then asked him to remove the weapon or take it outside, Lopinto said.

“There was no discussion between the two. There was no discussion between the employees or Mr. Williams at the time,” Lopinto said. “Joshua Williams wasn’t really confrontational from that point of view. He didn’t necessarily want to bring his gun to the car, but he was cooperating mainly because his brother told him to cooperate … I’d say there was no distress between the employees.

Witness interviews and video reviews indicate that Joshua Williams showed no signs of anger or agitation before walking to the front door as if to leave. But then he fired into the air outside before firing his gun while going in and out of the building multiple times.

During the first 48 hours after the shooting, investigators recovered more than 2,000 pieces of evidence and nearly 3,000 photographs. There were eight shooters and the police have taken statements from 25 witnesses. The researchers found almost 100 different gun casings.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office performed three autopsies and two other people, both store employees, were injured, Lopinto said.

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“The fact is, I don’t know if we’ll ever know why this happened,” Lopinto said.

Video released by the sheriff’s office during a press conference broadcast live in Gretna shows some of what happened. It shows Williams at the door of the store, shooting. At another point, it shows Joshua Williams inside pointing at one of the dead people, Veronica Billiot, 59, of Belle Chasse, also a customer. It shows him pointing to the area where employee Herbert “Noah” Fischbach, 47, of Jefferson, had taken cover behind a counter. And it shows him walking up and down a hallway in the building where a firearms class was taking place.

ATF investigators look at evidence at the scene of a multi-fatal shooting at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metairie, Louisiana, on Saturday, February 20, 2021 (AP Photo / Matthew Hinton).

Seven other people, all trained firearms employees from the gun store and shooting range, shot Joshua Williams before he was killed outside the building, Lopinto said.

On Monday it was unclear whether the two people who were injured were hit by shots from Joshua Williams or someone else.

Timothy Williams fled the store with his children after the shooting began. Lopinto said he cooperated with authorities and was unable to explain his brother’s behavior. He gave authorities a statement and “basically said that his brother went crazy,” Lopinto said.

Lopinto said Fischbach was one of the employees who responded to the fire once the shooting started. However, he had taken cover behind a counter and was on the floor with his back to Williams when he was killed, probably unaware that Williams had re-entered the store after exiting.

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Fischbach’s wife, Nancy, told The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate that her husband was a special effects specialist and gunsmith who supervised the use of weapons on film sets. He said he had been working in the armory due to COVID-19 restrictions in the film industry. She believes that she died helping people inside the store.

“He did everything he could for everyone … He wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they did something wrong,” he said.

Bradford Betz of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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