Eric Hanson, 43, was shopping in the meat aisle of Brooklyn Park's Festival Foods Friday night when he heard loud noises coming from the direction of the grocery store's break room.
"I was getting hamburgers at the time, and I just heard this BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM," Hanson said.
He didn't think much of it, guessing that somebody in the back had dropped some pallets off a forklift. He continued shopping until he and other shoppers were directed over the intercom to go the front of the store.
That's when he began to realize that the sounds he'd heard were something far more serious -- gunshots.
Michael Habte, 21, and his girlfriend, Abigail M. Fedeli, 20, both of Brooklyn Park, had been fatally shot by an off-duty co-worker who, apparently fueled by jealousy, stormed into the break room, shot them, then fled to Minneapolis, where he turned the gun on himself near the Washington Avenue Bridge.
Fedeli died of a single gunshot wound to the neck, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner. Habte died while in surgery at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale; he suffered multiple gunshot wounds, the medical examiner said.
The shooter's identity is expected to be released Monday, said Mary Tan, communications coordinator for the city of Brooklyn Park.
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.
According to a friend of Habte's, the shooter used to date Fedeli. Habte had been dating Fedeli for a month or two, said Andrew Hawkinson, a friend of Habte's since they were in first grade.
Habte "was an extremely hard worker, really ambitious," said. "He had a lot of high goals in life."
"Mike never had a problem with anybody," Hawkinson said. He said that to his knowledge, Habte had been "very respectful" of his girlfriend's previous relationship.
Habte, who had a second job at Luther Collision and Glass in Plymouth, was a graduate of Hennepin Technical College, and Fedeli went to North Hennepin Community College, Hawkinson said.
The Fedeli family released a statement Sunday saying, "An extraordinarily bright, beautiful, and loving part of our lives has been senselessly taken away from us."
Lisa Evanson, 19, who worked with the victims and the shooter several years ago, said the store's employees are close-knit. "When you work at Festival Foods, you become part of a family," she said. "You're friends with each other. You date each other, and you hate each other."
As events unfolded Friday night at the store, it was hard to understand what was going on, Hanson said. Even after hearing the sounds, the thought that they might have been gunshots didn't cross his mind, he said, until a store manager went by and asked, "Was that gunshots?"
Shortly after those in the store were directed toward the front, police arrived and told people to go outside, he said. They stood in the parking lot for a while, then were bused to the police station to give statements, Hanson said. When an officer climbed on the bus to give them information, "somebody asked, 'Is everybody all right?' And he said, 'No,'" Hanson recalled.
The store re-opened Sunday morning. A memorial of flowers and condolences were left in front of its doors. Employees are being provided with counseling, Clasen said.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 952-707-9995