MACOMB, Ill (WGEM) -- Police have identified the suspected gunman involved in a standoff at the Macomb Farm King store, who was found dead by what officials believe is a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Macomb police chief Curt Barker identifies the suspected shooter as Jonathan J. Labbe, 19, from Tennessee, Illinois. Macomb police chief Curt Barker says Labbe's body was found in the housewares section of the store by the remote controlled tactical robot sent in by police to search the store.
The standoff, which began around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, lasted nearly six hours and ended with no victims other than the gunman. Six people that were hiding in the building, including three Farm King employees and three customers including a young child, were released around 3:40 p.m. They were the last people known to be in the building beyond Labbe.
Two other people could be seen leaving the store earlier Wednesday afternoon. Police say Labbe took no hostages during the standoff.
"I really didn't see anything," Ned Kull, a Farm King customer said. "I was in the tire shop waiting to have tires put on my truck, which is still on the lift in there. I heard 'security to the sporting goods', then a guy walked up and said, he's got a gun. I heard some shots."
Police say a 9-1-1 call was received at 12:45 p.m. from an employee inside the Farm King store stating that there was a person with a rifle inside the store. Richard Moulton says he was buying a battery charger at the store when someone in an aisle nearby began arguing and shouting. Seconds later he heard about four or five gunshots and he and other customers then ran from the store.
Officers say that Labbe came out of the store, fired at police officers than escaped back into the Farm King building. Barker said Labbe had no connection to the store.
"We had one team at the entrance to the building and one team on the east side," Barker said. "As the team on the east side entered, the other went through the front door. As (Labbe) walked in with the rifle, employees started yelling for everyone to get out of the store."
WGEM's Laura Johnson also spoke to a man who says his wife, who works at the store, said Labbe walked up to the sporting goods counter and demanded guns and ammo.
An eyewitness at the scene said nearly 20 rounds were fired in the direction of police officers. Several businesses near the Farm King facility remain in a lockdown state. A nearby Hy-Vee store was to evacuate people from the Farm King store.
"My husband and I were going to Wal-Mart during our lunch hour when we saw numerous police vehicles fly by on East Jackson," Carrie VanVleet, a Macomb resident, said. "As we drove by, we saw employees and possibly customers running towards the end of the parking lot. They were crouching behind a snow embankment."
"We parked in a nearby parking lot to get a better look and saw police with their guns drawn at the front door."
Jeff Hillyer's uncle was working in the store when the shooter entered. Hillyer's uncle escaped and spoke to Hillyer just five minutes after he fled the scene.
"He told me that the shooting started in the sporting goods and he was up front at the service desk, he said someone yelled everyone had to get out of the store,' Hillyer said. "He said there were five shots fired as they were exciting the building and he said they were all running."
Macomb superintendent Dr. Alene Reuschel told WGEM News the Macomb Public School District went in a standard situation safety protocol lockdown. Schools continued to operate as normal, but the perimeters of the building were secure. Students were released at the normal time.
Western Illinois University also issued its Emergency Alert System shortly after the report, asking students, faculty and staff to avoid East Jackson Street.
The Macomb Police Department plans to hold its next media briefing on the situation at 9 a.m. Thursday.
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