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Tragedy and Heroism: Young Mother Among Four Killed in Arkansas Grocery Store Shooting

Callie Weems was experiencing the joys of motherhood in the months before a tragic event occurred at a grocery store in Arkansas, where she was fatally shot.

Her 10-month-old daughter, Ivy, brought her constant joy and amazement, according to Weems’ mother, Helen Browning. Weems, 23, was one of four people killed, and 11 others were injured — including the shooter — in the incident at the Mad Butcher store in Fordyce, Arkansas, on Friday. Just an hour before the shooting, Weems had texted her mother, excited that Ivy had let her sleep in until 9 a.m.

Browning fondly remembered replying, “‘I bet you feel like a new mom.’”

This was their last conversation before 44-year-old Travis Eugene Posey allegedly opened fire at the store, causing chaos as bystanders sought cover. Weems, a nurse, was killed while assisting another victim, as confirmed by Arkansas State Police Director Mike Hagar.

“Instead of fleeing, she stopped to help in one of the most selfless acts I’ve ever seen,” Hagar said during a news conference.

In total, 15 people were shot, including 12 civilians, two law enforcement officers, and Posey.

This incident marked at least the third mass shooting at a U.S. grocery store in recent years. In 2022, a white supremacist killed 10 Black individuals at a Buffalo supermarket, and a year earlier, 10 people were shot dead at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

Authorities stated that Posey’s motive remained unclear, and he appeared to have no personal connection to the victims. He was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, a pistol, and additional ammunition. Posey initially fired at people in the parking lot before entering the store and shooting randomly at customers and employees.

Fordyce police and Dallas County sheriff’s deputies responded quickly, exchanging gunfire with Posey before apprehending him.

For Browning, the tragedy was compounded by the loss of another victim, Roy Sturgis, 50, a family friend. Sturgis was described as a simple, loving father.

“Roy was as country as cornbread,” Browning said. “He lived a simple life.”

The other victims who died were Shirley Taylor, 62, and Ellen Shrum, 81. Taylor’s daughter, Angela Atchley, remembered her as the family’s rock who cared for her diabetic husband and enjoyed crocheting.

Fordyce, a city of about 3,200 people located 65 miles south of Little Rock, was deeply affected by the shooting, according to city council member Roderick Rogers. He described the scene as a “war zone,” with the shooter firing wildly in the parking lot.

The tight-knit community was left shaken, with residents concerned for the hospitalized victims and worried about the potential for future violence.

“A lot of people are frightened,” Rogers said. “They want to feel safe right now.”

Hagar noted that the responding officers and deputies were familiar with both the shooter and the victims, adding a personal and emotional layer to the tragedy.

The wounded ranged in age from 20 to 65, with five still hospitalized, including a woman in critical condition.

Posey, who is being held at the Ouachita County Detention Center, will face four counts of capital murder. It was confirmed that he had legal representation, though the attorney’s name was not provided.

Browning shared that Posey had attended school with her youngest sister and expressed disbelief that he could commit such an act of violence. She now plans to raise Ivy.

“She will know that her mother loved her,” Browning said. “And that she was the sunshine of momma’s eyes.”

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Charles Wright
Charles Wrighthttps://devstory.org.za
Charles Wright embarked on his journalism career two decades ago, quickly making a name for himself with his insightful reporting and keen eye for detail. His dedication to uncovering the truth and presenting well-researched stories has earned him a reputation as a reliable and respected journalist. Over the years, Charles has covered a wide range of topics, from local news and politics to international affairs and in-depth investigative pieces. Throughout his career, Charles has demonstrated exceptional skills in investigative journalism, political reporting, and feature writing. His ability to dissect complex issues and present them in a clear, engaging manner has won him numerous accolades and the trust of his readers. Charles is known for his commitment to unbiased reporting and his relentless pursuit of the facts, which has made him a cornerstone of the journalistic community.