A truck driver who stabbed four women, three fatally, was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Tennessee on Tuesday.
When officers arrived at the scene just after 7am, they found one of the stabbing victims outside the store and a man armed with a knife in the parking lot.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said: “Officers confronted the individual who refused to drop the weapon. At some point during the encounter, one of the officers fired shots, striking the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Authorities identified those who were killed as Joyce Whaley; Patricia Nibbe; and Nettie Spencer. They all worked for Pilot at the store, which offers fuel, food, and parking to truck drivers and other motorists.
The injured customer has now been released from hospital.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has yet to offer a possible motive for the attack and is reviewing both the stabbings and the subsequent shooting of the suspect.
WBIR reports a source close to the investigation saying that the graphic contents of a notebook that law enforcement officers recovered from Abdus-Salaam's truck may indicate that he was not mentally well.
Tributes have been paid to the victims by members of the community. Ms Whaley was a faithful and steadfast member of The Crossing Church in Kodak. Pastor Kermit McPeek described her as: “One of the most caring people I've ever met.”
Pastor Joshua Moore at Grace Community Church said that Ms Nibbe was a woman you could count on: “She was one of the most giving people, willing to help in an instant in any situation.”
Source: Notebook found in stabbing suspect's truck, may offer insight into mental state https://t.co/iLf8WHurO5— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir)April 8, 2020
Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam said in a statement: “We are devastated to confirm the loss of three team members and the injury of a guest after an act of violence at our Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, location this morning.
“It is with heavy hearts that we extend our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the victims. We are providing support and counselling to the families and our team. We are working closely with local authorities. Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.”
The attacker’s mother, Walidah Abdus-Salaam, says such a heinous act is completely out of character for her son.
“He's not a violent person,” she told Knox News. “The picture they painted is ugly. That is not my son.”
She adds: “I don't believe it, and I refuse to believe it until they can prove otherwise to me.”