Five people were wounded by gunfire inside a Cheltenham Walmart on Tuesday night when a man arguing with another customer grabbed a gun and fired at least 10 shots throughout the store, according to police.
Cheltenham Township Police Chief John Frye said at a news conference that none of those struck sustained life-threatening injuries but that the suspected gunman and the woman he was with also injured two city police officers when they crashed their getaway car into the back of a parked police cruiser a few blocks away, at Sedgwick Street and Forrest Avenue in Philadelphia.
Preliminary indications were that the man and woman are siblings, Frye said.
Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said that the suspected shooter — whom police did not identify — had been seen tossing a gun out of his car window before the collision, which occurred shortly after the shooting around 6:07 p.m. The officers took the man into custody after a "violent struggle," Small said, and police needed to use a Taser to subdue him later, when witnesses from the Walmart had been taken to the police van to identify him.
In a video broadcast by 6ABC, the suspect, while being led into the Cheltenham police station, said he believed his life was in danger.
"I'm sorry, man," he said. "I thought somebody was going to kill me."
Frye said those injured in the shooting included two women in their 40s who were shot in a leg, one man in his 40s struck in a leg, a man with a graze wound to a leg, and another victim who reported to Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health with unspecified non-life-threatening injuries.
The officers were taken to Roxborough Memorial Hospital for injuries sustained during the collision, police said, and the woman in the car with the suspected shooter was taken to Einstein Medical Center, also for injuries she apparently suffered in the crash.
The suspected shooter, meanwhile, was taken to Einstein after being Tased, police said. Officials did not specify what charges he might face over the incident but did say the gun allegedly tossed from his car was recovered.
Frye said witnesses also identified the woman as being part of the incident. Police did not say what counts she might face.
Witnesses at the store described a frantic scene that unfolded without warning.
Frye said it appeared that the man got into an argument with a customer in a checkout line, pulling a gun from the waistband of the woman he was with and starting to unload shots through the store. The chief said it was not clear whether the man had hit any of his intended targets. Police believe the shooter was on "some type of drugs," Frye said.
Darrell Archer, 27, was working as a cashier in the store when he heard five to six shots fired. After the gunfire subsided, he said, he saw that a store manager had been shot in a leg, another cashier shot in a leg, and a customer shot in an arm.
"I only heard the shots," Archer said in an interview outside the store. "I wasn't getting that close."
Another Walmart employee, Leenie Smith, 51, said that when she heard the gunfire, "I ducked down and ran away and tried to get out of there as fast as I could."
Jaynee Davis, 55, was at the customer service desk when she heard at least four shots come from behind her. She ran with a group of customers to try to hide. She said she helped a man who had been struck in the calf make a tourniquet out of his shirt to try to stop the bleeding.
"We didn't know whether the shooter was still in the store," she said. "We were petrified and we were trying to be quiet."
>> GALLERY: Photos from the scene
Tammy Walking Stick, 50, from Collegeville, said she was about to enter the store to shop for food when she heard gunshots and saw a large crowd of people rush out the front of the store. She stayed outside, she said, and saw three people exit with injuries — two people with leg wounds and one with an injury to an arm.
"It's just crazy," she said.
Frye said that a pregnant woman was also injured during the chaos when she fell, but that she was not struck by gunfire.
First responders from a host of nearby municipalities were staged around the Cedarbrook Plaza around 6:30 p.m. Frye said the police investigation would likely continue well into the night.