It didn't take Anthony Brandon and Tonya Lamont long to figure out that something was off Friday night when they stopped in for a few things at Brooklyn Park's Festival Foods.
A number of employees were standing outside the entrance, they said -- more than would normally take a break at the same time. Inside, a manager appeared distraught, rushing from the back of the store to the front, and then to the back again.
Then came his shaky voice over store's intercom: "Everyone come up to the front now!"
"We were standing around thinking, 'Should we pay for our stuff? Can we shop?'" Brandon said. 'Then they said, 'Everyone get outside!' We knew something's not right. Something's definitely not right."
Brandon and Lamont later found out that they had arrived only minutes after a store employee, apparently fueled by jealousy, had stormed into the break room where two co-workers sat at 8:30 p.m. and shot them, killing one and fatally injuring the other, before fleeing to Minneapolis and turning the gun on himself.
Abigail M. Fedeli, 20, died of a single gunshot wound to the neck, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner. The other victim, a 21-year-old man whose name has not been released, died at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. The shooter's name also has not been released.
All three were "long-term, current employees who were well-respected," said Tom Clasen, vice president of operations for Knowlan's Super Markets Inc., which operates Festival Foods. The victims were working at the time; the shooter was not.
Brooklyn Park Deputy Chief Craig Enevoldsen identified the shooter as the dead woman's ex-acquaintance but wouldn't say whether they were previously involved in a romantic relationship.
Shortly after the shootings, police quickly identified the suspect and tracked him to Minneapolis. As authorities from several jurisdictions closed in, he shot himself near West River Parkway. His body was found beneath the Washington Avenue Bridge.
Enevoldsen would not say whether the gunman fled through the front or back of the store, or whether any kind of scuffle preceded the shooting. The three who died were the only ones in the break room at the time, he said.
The store was closed Saturday and was expected to re-open Sunday morning. Counseling was provided for employees, Clasen said. First priority will be taking care of them, he said. And it's likely that customers will be asking questions Sunday. "We're prepared for that," he said.
In the minutes after the shooting, before police arrived, Lamont said she and Brandon, like others in the store, were uncertain about whether the gunman had left.
"I didn't know what to do; I didn't want to move. My heart was racing," she said. "It was scary to think he was still out there, and we had no idea where."
Brandon said a manager he pulled aside told him witnesses heard "a boyfriend and girlfriend arguing over the phone, breaking up." A short time later, six gunshots rang out, he was told.
Both said that despite the obvious tragedy of what happened, they're glad that no one else was hurt. "He could have been running around the store, using the rest of his ammo, shooting people," Brandon said. "You never know."
On Saturday, a stream of cars drove through the parking lot of the store, located just off Hwy. 252. Some customers were unaware that the shooting had occurred and were greeted by a sign that said, "Temporarily closed; sorry for the inconvenience." Bouquets of roses and carnations were laid by the door.
In midmorning, members of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Brooklyn Center were nearby performing random acts of kindness when they decided to make a stop at the empty parking lot. They held hands and prayed.
Sad times, strong town
The slayings are another setback for the tight-knit community of Brooklyn Park, which in recent months has experienced a number of somber events, including the death of Mayor Steve Lampi from cancer. On Friday, skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in the city, triggering an investigation. In February, a woman was killed by her husband, who then set the home on fire.
Despite all of those things, said Mosiac's pastor, Rachel McIver Morey, the city is strong.
"God has a way of redeeming horrific situations, and I think Brooklyn Park is well-positioned for that," she said.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921