Family Dollar Shooting: Dollar Store Homicide Suspect Arrested

A Family Dollar shooting in Mobile, Alabama, left employees in the wake of a terrible loss on Tuesday. A gunman entered the dollar store the night of Mardi Gras and proceeded to open fire on 40-year-old Gerald Westry, who had been working his managerial shift at the time.

Robbery doesn’t appear to have been the gunman’s aim, as dollar stores are not known for their high value merchandise, and no money had been found missing from the store. Employees of the store are still in shock.


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One of the employees from Greer’s Cash Saver next door recalled his horror at what happened in the aftermath of the Family Dollar shooting around 7 p.m. that night, according to WKRG.

“I was standing in the office, and a guy comes running through the door that works for the Family Dollar and asks where our security guard was. He said it numerous times and then said ‘call the police! We’ve just been robbed!’

“I was on the phone with the police department and a couple of customers who had been inside the Family Dollar were standing outside and said they heard gunshots, [four] or [five] gunshots. It’s tragic. We’re real shaken up.”

The dollar store employee may have been in shock when they said the store had just been robbed. As stated above, nothing of value was discovered to have been missing after the Family Dollar shooting. Mobile Police are still attempting to come up with a motive, says Police Chief James Barber. “We’re still trying to piece together what the motive was. He was an employee inside at work in the store when he was shot. But there was no cash or register taken from the store.”

Westry’s cousin couldn’t figure out why the shooting happened either, saying that the victim was a funny guy, someone who could make you laugh. It’s unknown if the gunman was a disgruntled former employee, or if there was another factor in play, such as mental illness.

Could Gun Control Have Been An Issue?

Mental illness has been a common factor in many shootings in recent years, with the gunman having been revealed to have not been well. Effective gun control laws might have prevented the Family Dollar shooting, including the possibility of psychiatric evaluation prior to the purchase of a firearm.

It was assumed that Harris and Klebold may not have been well before taking guns to school in Columbine and proceeding to shoot up classmates and then turning the guns on themselves. Even rock icon Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson), a scapegoat for the killings, claimed that the two gunmen in that case were not of sound mind.

The recent rise in killings of unarmed black victims by white police also adds another possible motive, but it wasn’t stated if the Family Dollar shooting was a racial attack. Police spokesman Terence Perkins said the victim was male, but revealed nothing more, according to ABC News.

The possibility of a mentally unstable gunman has not been ruled out, since the shooting didn’t appear to be racially motivated and there was no robbery involved. It is also unknown if the gunman involved in the Family Dollar shooting had previously known Gerald Westly, who had just celebrated his 40th birthday.

According to Fox News, a suspect has been arrested in the case. Investigators say Ashton Garner, 20, is now in custody.

Could the Family Dollar shooting have been prevented if the gunman had been deemed mentally unfit to purchase the weapon?

[Image via Ken Wolter/Shutterstock]