Yet again in the United States, a suicidal assailant with a gun had opened fire, apparently indiscriminately. This time, authorities said, the shooter was a 26-year-old woman, and the victims — three dead, three wounded — were in or just outside a massive Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
The attacker, identified by law enforcement officials as Snochia Moseley, a temporary Rite Aid employee, used a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol, authorities said. They said she then shot herself in the head and died at a hospital.
Authorities did not name the victims by late Thursday and would not say whether they worked at the massive facility.
Carre, who works next door at a furniture distribution company called Zenith Global Logistics, said he and others propped up the wounded man’s left leg, then removed his pants and used them to stanch the bleeding. As they were caring for the victim, Carre said, emergency vehicles were swarming, headed for the Rite Aid building.
Soon, several dozen terrified Rite Aid employees, some in tears, would be flowing into Zenith Global’s offices, survivors of the nation’s latest mass shooting.
Moseley, whose last known address was in Baltimore County, “had reported for her workday as usual” Thursday morning, said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler. “And around 9 a.m., the shooting began, striking victims both outside the business and inside the facility.”
He said the three victims who survived were hospitalized with wounds that are not believed to be life-threatening. As for why Moseley opened fire, Gahler said late Thursday afternoon, “We are still trying to work on any kind of motive for it.”
Moseley had “two, perhaps three” extra clips of ammunition, Gahler said, adding that the Glock belonged to her and was legally registered.
The Aberdeen attack was the second workplace shooting in the country in a 24-hour span. On Wednesday morning, a 43-year-old man opened fire on fellow employees of a software company in a suburb of Madison, Wis., seriously wounding three people before killing himself, authorities there said. They said another victim was grazed by a bullet.
Looking out from Zenith’s offices, Carre said, he saw a SWAT team with rifles and other officers charging around the area. The police eventually began bringing Rite Aid employees into Zenith, which served as a holding place.
One woman was sobbing and barefoot, having fled so quickly that she lost her shoes. “She said her friend had been shot in the head,” Carre said of the barefoot woman.
He said several Rite Aid employees spoke about Moseley.
“Normally, she was a nice person, but she came in in a bad mood,” Carre said, recounting what Rite Aid employees told him. He added that they said “she wanted to pick a fight. And then she started shooting.”
In all, Carre said, police transferred about 40 employees from Rite Aid to the Zenith offices. He said many were crying as they came in and were in disbelief about what had happened. Police searched them all as a precaution to determine if any were carrying weapons.
“Everybody was in shock and worried about their co-workers,” Carre said. “It was horrific. I never saw anything like that in my life.”
He showed a reporter for The Washington Post videos he had made after the shootings.
In one, Rite Aid employees are seen walking slowly through a parking lot with sheriff’s deputies. Many of the employees have their hands on their heads.
“She’s fine! She’s fine!” an unidentified woman can be heard shouting, as another woman wails loudly. “Andrew’s fine. Bridget’s okay. I saw Randolph. . . . I saw Jason.” Two women hugged each other, while others were locked arm-in-arm.
In another video, sheriff’s deputies in the parking lot can be heard asking the Rite Aid workers to stand spread-eagle so they can be checked for weapons. Some of the employees were weeping.
One employee, Christine Scharmann, texted her daughter after the gunfire erupted, writing in part: “There’s a shooter in the building, I am hiding. I love you. Be good. Take care of daddy.” Then, at 10:33 a.m., she sent another text: “I am outside and safe. I love you.”
Scharmann’s sister-in-law, Amy Scharmann, was still shaken Thursday night. “It’s still hard to process all this, how close she came. I was just so relieved, so thankful that she’s okay, thank God. That’s all I care about right now. What could have happened? What could have happened has been going through my mind all day.”
In Baltimore County, meanwhile, Shaunise McGowan, a neighbor of Moseley’s, recalled the shooter as being “quiet” and “a nice girl.”
“Why would she go and do something like that?” McGowan wondered aloud.
An acquaintance, Myles Nelson, who went to Overlea High School with Moseley from 2007 to 2011, said “from what I can remember she was very laid back. I don’t remember her having problems with anyone.”
A reunification center for families of Rite Aid workers was set up at the Level Volunteer Fire Co. in nearby Havre de Grace.
Reggie Rodriguez, 43, had to wait 3½ hours before he learned his mother, who works in the distribution facility, was safe.
Rodriguez, a driver for Herr’s Potato Chips, was on the road when he got a call from a family member saying there might have been a shooting at the Rite Aid site. He called his wife, Kelly Rodriguez, who was sitting on her sofa at their home in Bel Air, and she immediately began calling his mother, Joyce Parker.
She tried her for the first time at 10:30 a.m., then at 10:54, and 10:57 and 10:58. She posted on Facebook, “Please, if anyone knows JOYCE PARKER, let us know she is safe at the Rite Aid Warehouse.”
She said she knew the distribution center has employees leave their phones in lockers and wondered whether Parker couldn’t get to her phone.
“I just kept calling and calling and calling,” Kelly Rodriguez said, leaving the volunteer fire company, where she and her husband learned that Parker was all right.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman called the shooting a “too often occurrence,” referring to gun violence across the country. His county also is no stranger to such violence.
“It was another tragic event for us in Harford County,” Gahler said Thursday. “Unfortunately, all of us have been standing here before.”
Mass killings — defined in federal statutes as homicides involving three or more victims — are seldom carried out by women, said Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa who studies mass shootings. When women do commit such crimes, he said, the body count usually is relatively low.
“If you look at mass shootings in the United States that have killed eight or more people, they’re all done by men,” Lankford said. He said women commit only about 10 percent of homicides overall and about 4 percent of mass killings.
In many cases, Lankford said, mass killings with victims numbering in the double digits are committed by suicidal shooters seeking fame in death, and research shows that men are more likely “to be aggressive and violent” in trying achieve notoriety.
In recent mass shootings by women, three people were wounded in April at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., by a disgruntled YouTube user, and three people were slain at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in February 2010 by a professor who was angry after being denied tenure.
The scene after a shooter killed multiple people near Aberdeen, Md.
In Aberdeen, agents from the FBI and the Baltimore office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the shootings. About noon, dozens of SWAT team members could be seen coming from the building, and a Maryland State Police helicopter was at the scene.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on Twitter: “The First Lady and I are grieving for the loss of life in today’s shooting in Harford County, and praying that those who were injured fully recover.”
Jouvenal and Duggan reported from Washington. Devlin Barrett, Michael Brice-Saddler and Magda Jean-Louis in Washington and Gary Gately in Aberdeen contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to a shooting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville as occurring in 2012. It occurred in 2010.