An airman from the Grand Forks Air Force Base entered a Wal-Mart in town early Tuesday, shot and killed one employee and wounded another before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.

The bloodshed occurred shortly after 1 a.m. at the supercenter just east of Interstate 29 and about 20 miles east of the base, according to police.

The airman was identified by police as Marcell Willis, 21. Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said authorities “don’t know an apparent motive that jumps out at this time.”

Police said there did not appear to be a link between Willis and the victims or the store. Willis’ Facebook page said he was from Springfield, just north of Nashville, Tenn., and studied at Emory University in Atlanta.

His girlfriend, Amy Mehs, of Grand Forks, said Tuesday that Willis “was a wonderful person” but declined to say anything further. Air base officials declined to reveal Willis’ rank or anything more about his military background.

Identities of the victims were expected to be released Wednesday once family members are notified. The surviving shooting victim was in satisfactory condition at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

Willis entered the store and shot two employees, one fatally, according to police. He went farther into the store and shot at another employee but missed. Still farther inside, Willis shot himself, police said.

The gunfire sent some of the customers and employees fleeing from the store. Others took shelter inside.

Officers arrived in minutes. A gun was found next to Willis. Willis was taken by ambulance to Altru, where he died.

The Grand Forks Police Department is encouraging people with information on the shooting to contact investigators at 701-787-8000, by e-mail at or by texting the word “tipster” to 847411.