It was a busy Saturday afternoon at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. Customers and staff were in the store, some were in the shooting range and others were in a class on concealed weapons.
The Associated Press reported that one person entered the store and fatally shot two people, prompting customers and staff to open fire on the shooter, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto. Dead are store clerk Noah Fischbach, 47; customer Veronica Billot, 59; and the shooter, Joshua Jamal Williams. Lopinto said two men also were hit by gunfire and were hospitalized in stable condition.
According to Action News Jax, the 27-year-old Williams of New Orleans carried an unholstered pistol with an extended clip into the shop, and was told he couldn’t carry a loaded gun until he was in the shooting range area — which is normally accessed by an exterior side door.
Michael Mayer, vice-president of operations at the gun outlet, said in an email to NOLA.com that Williams “became agitated by the request and pulled his gun out of his pants and started firing. Our armed and trained employees, as well as some armed permitted customers, returned fire and eliminated the threat.”
One relative told NOLA.com that the initial shooter had gone to the store with his brother and some children “just to spend time together on a Saturday.” This person, who would not give his name, wondered why the first shots were fired. To him, it made no sense that the brothers would have arrived intending to shoot anyone, in a place known as an off-hours spot for law enforcement officers and military personnel.
“That would be a death sentence,” he said.
A report from WDSU News said an update would be forthcoming.
The outlet sits on a main road, across from a large park, where people say they heard up to 50 shots. One mother posted this on Facebook:
During this time, six people were in the conceal-and-carry course in a classroom at the store. Dan Baird, interviewed by WDSU, said “All hell broke loose. It wasn’t guns in the range, it was guns in the hallway and it went on for like 20 seconds.” He said one instructor stayed with the students, barring the door, while two others headed toward the sound of gunfire.
“One of them came back and asked for a tourniquet,” Baird said, which the remaining instructor was able to provide.
Another student said he heard screams and gunshots and “a lot of commotion. I was on the ground, praying.”
The class had not yet begun its second segment, during which they would have been in the shooting range.
Also in the class were Tyrone Russell and Wanetta Joseph, who heard what they described as rapid firing, much louder than the usual muffled shooting that comes from inside the shooting range.
Joseph said she hid with other students under a table — not knowing if there were multiple shooters or if one was near the classroom.
Once police led them out, Russell described seeing shattered glass, bullet casings strewn about the store and that out in the parking lot, he could see a guy “laid out” not far from his car, which was struck by bullets.
Nancy Fischbach, the wife of the store clerk who was fatally wounded, said her husband was a special effects expert and an armorer, who supervises the use of all weapons on a film set and gives actors and staff instruction for how to properly and safely use them. Because of COVID-19 and its restrictions on the film industry, Fischbach had been working more hours at the gun store.