The Walmart shooter's violent past is coming into clearer focus. New information obtained by 44News reveals numerous threatening messages. The gunman's behavioral red flags are piling up and raising more questions about how he was allowed to own a firearm.
In an interview with 44News, Andrew Thurmond, a long-time coworker and former close friend of the gunman’s, detailed a long history of violent behavior and escalating threats leading up to the targeted attack at the Walmart on the west side of Evansville.
He also said the gunman acquired a 9mm pistol in August, 2022, the same type of weapon used in the shooting. Thurmond said "I was told by the police that [the gunman] did purchase [the handgun] legally. I don’t know how.”
Thurmond’s disbelief at the shooter’s ability to acquire a gun came from his first-hand experience being targeted and receiving disturbing messages from a fake account on his PlayStation. He was also threatened in person by the gunman.
According to Thurmond, ”I’ve never had a death threat in my life up until this guy decided to snap. He sends me this message saying “you will be joining your dad soon” with a smiley face. The next day after that, I got a restraining order on him.”
The victim of the shooting received rape and death threats from that same PlayStation account. Messages were sent to another woman from a fake Facebook account. In those messages, the shooter made descriptive threats about how he would kill her children. Thurmond said police saw all of these messages:
"They really didn’t do much. They went over there, but they looked through his phone, and they’re like “oh, we found nothing, so we can’t do nothing." Whenever I got my death threat, they just told me to get a restraining order. I really wish they would’ve dug further into it. My friend wouldn’t be missing an eyeball right now.”
Thurmond detailed incidents of the gunman cornering coworkers in rooms, throwing chairs in the break room, and screaming at a coworker with clenched fists after he offered to share his lunch with him. He described a dangerously unpredictable man prone to extreme mood swings.
According to officials, the gunman had not done anything barring him from owning a firearm prior to the shooting. This incident has revealed cracks in those restrictions that allowed a demonstrably violent man to carry out an act of violence that has left one woman’s life, and likely many others, changed forever.