Gulfport shooting leaves workers thinking safety

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Leaving the back door open is nothing out of the ordinary for businesses in the Norwood Village Shopping Plaza.

"It's usually very safe and friendly.  I mean, clearly, we wouldn't leave the door open if it weren't," says Hope Blanchard, a Fiesta Pools employee.

But, workers in the plaza say the open door policy is about to change after an incident Thursday morning.  A man showed up at the back door of the Goodwill store while employees were on a smoke break and asked to use a cell phone.

"She was handing him her cell phone. And he reached in his pocket and pulled a gun out and said, 'I'm the man with the gun,'" says Sue Rye, Goodwill Store Manager.

Employees then ran inside and called police.  Rye says based upon what employees told her, the man didn't appear to be acting normal.

"From everything we've been told something wasn't right," says Rye.

Police say the man, 59-year-old Gayron L. Sanders of Gulfport, was threatening suicide.

"On arrival, the officer attempted to speak with the individual, and a shot was fired by the individual and the officer," says Chief Alan Weatherford.

The officer wasn't hit, but the man was shot and killed.

Rye says though she hopes there isn't a next time, her employees will better prepared in the future.

"We'll definitely have a training on this.  We even asked the police if they provided the training," says Rye.

Rye along with other workers in the plaza say, in the future, they all plan to take a simple yet possible life-saving step.

"We definitely will keep this back door locked."