Two dead in store shooting: Police: Murder-suicide at Atmore store involves man, girlfriend

Published 9:44 am Monday, September 29, 2008

By By Adam Prestridge – special to the Standard
Two people were shot and killed as gunfire rang out inside the Atmore Dirt Cheap Friday morning.
Investigators are calling the incident a murder-suicide and are still investigating the events leading up to the deadly event.
The victim was a female store employee who was shot by her boyfriend, who later turned the gun on himself. They were both pronounced dead at the scene upon arrival of rescue personnel with both Atmore Ambulance and Kelley's Ambulance Service.
Emmanuel Banks, who played football at Escambia County High School with the shooter, who he identified at the scene as 22-year-old Justin Tyshawn Clark, said the shooting was part of an ongoing domestic dispute. The victim was identified as Raphia Shardae Arnold by her uncle, Charles Johnson, who was also at the scene. Officials with the Atmore Police Department confirmed both identities in a press release later Friday afternoon.
Carlee said that a witness told police that Clark entered the store to speak with Arnold. Arnold was working; therefore, the assistant manager told Clark to leave. Clark did so, but returned seconds later and requested another cashier to change a $100 bill so that he could give Arnold money to purchase clothes for the children. At that point, the witness said a gunshot was fired and Arnold was bleeding.
The witness said Clark then pointed the gun at himself and fired the second round.
That's when shots were fired in the discount store.
Banks' account of the shooting was consistent with accounts of two shoppers, who requested that their identities be withheld.
Upon arrival, investigators discovered Arnold lying near the entrance of the store with a gunshot wound to the head. Clark was discovered lying in between two cash registers with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials said. The bullet apparently exited Clark and shattered one of the storefront windows.
According to Carlee, a .40 caliber, semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the scene as well as two spent shell casings.
The police press release stated that at 10:58 a.m., Sgt. Darrell Holsonback with the Atmore Police Department was conducting a security check at the Adams Plaza Shopping Center, located at 150 Lindberg Ave., when he noted a vehicle parked in a fire zone. Holsonback stopped near the vehicle and while exiting his patrol car he heard gunshots come from inside the store.
During the time of the shooting, the store was open for business, and several customers were present. The APD was advised of one other injury to a customer who was complaining for hearing problems, according to the release. The customer was transported to Atmore Community Hospital for treatment.
Family and friends gathered in the parking lot outside Dirt Cheap consoling each other as investigators worked the crime scene.
Banks said the couple had been dating since high school and got into an argument Thursday evening. He said family encouraged Arnold not to go to work in case Clark tried to harm her.
The bodies will be transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile for autopsies.
Carlee said the Southwest Alabama Department of Mental Health has been contacted to provide counseling services for co-workers and witnesses.
Officers form the Escambia County Sheriff's Office and the Alabama State Troopers assisted in the case.