Students describe Evansville Walmart shooting – ‘Well crap, I’m going to get shot if I stay’

Evansville+West+Side+Walmart+closed+Friday+after+an+employee+was+shot+Thursday+evening.+The+suspect+was+shot+and+killed+by+police+officers+at+the+scene.+%28Photo+by+Bryce+West%29

Photo by Bryce West

Evansville West Side Walmart closed Friday after an employee was shot Thursday evening. The suspect was shot and killed by police officers at the scene.

A student was checking out at the Evansville West Side Walmart Thursday when she heard gunshots. 

“I was like, ‘well crap, I’m going to get shot if I stay,’” said Bailee Jones, sophomore radio and television major. 

A former Walmart employee, Ronald Mosley II, opened fire in the West Side Walmart around 9:59 p.m. Thursday. The suspect shot Amber Cook, a 28-year-old Walmart team lead.

I was like, ‘well crap, I’m going to get shot if I stay.’”

— Bailee Jones, sophomore radio and television major

According to Sgt. Anna Gray during a briefing Friday, the suspect shot at police upon their arrival to the scene around four minutes after the initial 911 call, causing a shootout throughout the store. There were around 40 shoppers trapped in the store during this time. 

The suspect was shot and killed by the police 12 minutes after the police arrived, according to Gray. Cook is still in critical condition with life-threatening injuries as reported by 14News around 2:09 p.m. Friday. As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, there are no other reports of victims.

Students and the campus community shop at the West Side Walmart frequently due to it being 1.8 miles from campus. President Ronald Rochon said in an email to the campus community around 8:35 a.m. Friday, “Since many of our students and employees frequent this store, it is possible one or more members of our community bore witness to these tragic events.”

I’ve never been part of a mass hysteria crowd like that. It’s definitely a feeling you can’t really imagine. ”

— Bailee Jones, sophomore radio and television major

Jones said she was shopping at Walmart when the suspect began firing.

“I was in the checkout lane and almost out the door when everyone suddenly started running, and there were gunshots,” Jones said. “I got told the shooter was in the back of the Walmart, so I was already at the front of the door running out.”

Jones said she did not know what was going on at the time.

“I’ve never been part of a mass hysteria crowd like that,” Jones said. “It’s definitely a feeling you can’t really imagine.” 

“Everyone was suddenly panicking and screaming and running out,” Jones said. “So naturally, I also went out trying to figure out what was going on, and then, as soon as I got to my car, a cop car pulled up next to me, and he got on a vest, grabbed a gun, and he ran into the Walmart.”

Ryleigh Evans, freshman marketing and agribusiness administration major, arrived at Walmart after the shooting around 10 p.m. Thursday. She said her and her friends witnessed eight cop cars arrive all at the same time. (Photo courtesy of Ryleigh Evans)
Ryleigh Evans, freshman marketing and agribusiness administration major, arrived at Walmart after the shooting around 10 p.m. Thursday. She said her and her friends witnessed eight cop cars arrive all at the same time. (Photo courtesy of Ryleigh Evans)

Jones said officers arrived at the scene very fast.

“As soon as it happened someone was there immediately and ran in,” Jones said. “I think that was really brave. I was really glad to see that action was taken so quickly.”

Ryleigh Evans, freshman marketing and agribusiness administration major, said she left campus to go to Walmart when she witnessed the aftermath of the shootout.

“At the light, we saw about eight cops pass all at once, and we weren’t 100% sure where they were going,” Evans said. “So, we planned on just continuing going to where we were, which was in the area of Walmart.”

Evans said once she saw more police officers arrive, her group decided to leave as soon as they could. 

“When you take a step back and think about the situation, it really humbles you because you think any of us could have been in that position,” Evans said. “And while we need to take time to realize that this yes, this is a problem. But we also need to take the steps to realize how we can prevent this as a community and as a university.”

When you take a step back and think about the situation, it really humbles you because you think any of us could have been in that position. ”

— Ryleigh Evans, freshman marketing and agribusiness administration major

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the West Side Walmart is closed to customers. According to the Walmart Pharmacy’s automated voice recording, the pharmacy is only available for curbside pickup orders. 

Evansville West Side Walmart parking lot remains mostly empty around 4 p.m. Friday. The store was closed Friday except for Walmart Pharmacy curbside following the shooting Thursday evening. (Photo by Bryce West)
Evansville West Side Walmart parking lot remains mostly empty around 4 p.m. Friday. The store was closed Friday except for Walmart Pharmacy curbside following the shooting Thursday evening. (Photo by Bryce West)

Michael Early, sophomore political science and history major, said he tried to go to Walmart Friday morning to purchase materials for USI Chess Club. After seeing the store was closed, he said he thought it was a chemical issue due to a vehicle that “had a symbol for chemicals.”

Students on campus expressed their concerns about how close the shooting occurred.

Avery Mullins, freshman nursing major, said, “I thought it was really scary because usually me and my roommates go there to shop.”

Sophia Hupfer, junior psychology major, said she knew people who were at Walmart before the shooting happened, and she often goes there with friends.

“It was kind of scary to think that it happened in our own backyard, and people I know and interact with were there beforehand and could have gotten hurt,” Hupfer said. 

44News reporter interviews Noah Robinson, Vanderburgh County Sheriff, around 4 p.m. Friday outside the closed Evansville West Side Walmart. (Photo by Bryce West)
44News reporter interviews Noah Robinson, Vanderburgh County Sheriff, around 4 p.m. Friday outside the closed Evansville West Side Walmart. (Photo by Bryce West)

More information on the shooting according to the 2:30 p.m. Friday briefing by the Evansville Police Department: 

The shooter, Ronald Mosley II, was arrested and fired from Walmart in May 2022 after an incident in which he assaulted four other people in Walmart. He was also charged with battery in 2019 after punching his roommate in the face. There was a review hearing in the May 2022 case Thursday to discuss progress in Mental Health Court. The shooting occurred the same night. 

The shooting was a planned event from Mosley. According to Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin, Mosley left a suicide note at his home. The victim, Amber Cook, is a team lead at Walmart and it is possible she was specifically targeted by Mosley. 

Around 70 EPD officers were on the scene alongside many other officers from different jurisdictions.

It was kind of scary to think that it happened in our own backyard, and people I know and interact with were there beforehand and could have gotten hurt.”

— Sophia Hupfer, junior psychology major