Grocery Store Shooting That Killed 3 Leaves an Arkansas Town in Disbelief

Thomas and Sharon Brazil were sitting in their car late Friday morning in front of the only grocery store in Fordyce, Ark., discussing what they wanted to buy to put on the grill that night. Then they noticed a man with a gun approaching them.

He looked at them, Mr. Brazil said, “and he shot.” Mr. Brazil, a 65-year-old minister, was shot in the forehead above his right eye. Ms. Brazil suffered cuts from broken glass. They went to the hospital but both survived. They were among the lucky ones.

All told, the police said that the gunman killed three people and injured 10 after he opened fire at the Mad Butcher grocery store. On Saturday, this town of 3,400 people, about 70 miles south of Little Rock, was only beginning to absorb the impact of the bloodshed, as a few details began to emerge.

“I just don’t have the words,” said Kasey Langley, whose daughter owns a flower shop a few doors down from the Mad Butcher. “I woke up this morning thinking it was all a dream. This didn’t happen, but it did.”

The authorities did not release the names of those who died. But one of the victims was Shirley Kay Taylor, 63, according to Angela Atchley, her daughter. Ms. Atchley said her mother was killed standing at the checkout of the Mad Butcher, while she was doing her usual grocery shopping.

Ms. Taylor, who loved to cook and host small parties, had asked Ms. Atchley’s son if he wanted to join her shopping on Friday. He did not, and now, “he’s kicking himself,” Ms. Atchley said. “He was like, ‘I could have shielded her or something.’ I said, ‘Then, we’d be having two funerals.’”

Among those hurt were two law enforcement officers with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Arkansas State Police, along with the suspect, Travis Eugene Posey, 44, of New Edinburg, a community about 10 miles southeast of Fordyce.

Mr. Posey will be charged with three counts of capital murder, the police said, noting that additional charges were pending. An inmate registry for Ouachita County, which adjoins Dallas County, where the shooting took place, showed that Mr. Posey was being held there on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Authorities have not released any details on a possible motive behind the shooting, which appears to have occurred both inside the store and in the parking lot. The suspect used a shotgun, according to a senior law enforcement official. It was unclear Saturday if there were other weapons used and whether any weapons were acquired illegally. It was also unknown if the suspect had any connection to the victims.

But “he was calm,” Mr. Brazil said. “He was walking and shooting.”

Mr. Posey, known as Joey, comes from a family that has lived in the area for generations. He worked in the lumber industry, like his father, Travis Julian Posey, who was a Marine who fought in Vietnam and died in 2021. The suspect also worked in the trucking industry — a truck with his company’s name, Travis Posey Trucking, was still parked on his property on Saturday.

At the Mad Butcher, two red sheets of paper were taped to the doors, with a message in all caps: “TEMPORARILY CLOSED. PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR COMMUNITY.”

“Unheard of in this small town,” said Ms. Langley, who stopped to take a picture of a wreath near the store that had been provided by her daughter.

Other residents were just as rattled on Saturday. Some expressed relief that their loved ones were spared.

Robin Roark, a pastor who is also running for the Arkansas House of Representatives, said that on Friday he got a text from his mother, who was parked in front of a pharmacy in the same shopping center as the grocery store. She told him that she thought there was a shooting happening.

“I call my mother, and it rings and rings and rings, and no one answers,” Mr. Roark said Saturday morning. “I called three or four times before she picked up. All I could hear were gunshots — a constant barrage of gunshots. I was like, ‘Mom, are you there?’”

Mr. Roark’s mother did eventually pick up. She had been lying down on the floor of the car — and she was fine.

Mr. Brazil said that he knew he and his wife were fortunate.

He said a doctor told him that though he had shrapnel in his wound, everything would be fine. “Thank God that’s all it was — I could have lost my eye,” he said, adding that he was grateful that “I get a chance to play with my grandkids some more.”

Ms. Taylor, one of the fatalities, had three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Ms. Atchley said. “She was such a great woman,” she added. “She’d do anything for her kids. Her family was everything to her.”

Ms. Atchley recalled the last time she saw her mother. It was Thursday, and Ms. Atchley, who lives in Camden, about 30 miles south of Fordyce, stopped by her mom’s house on the way to Little Rock to give her some cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden.

“I told her I loved her,” she said.

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