Police seeking teenage suspect after man and woman shot at Durham Walmart

2 shot, wounded at Durham Walmart

Two people were shot and wounded Wednesday afternoon in a shooting at this New Hope Commons Walmart store in Durham.
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Two people were shot and wounded Wednesday afternoon in a shooting at this New Hope Commons Walmart store in Durham.

A shooting at a Durham shopping center Wednesday left two people wounded and police seeking the accused teenage shooter.

Justin James Atwater, 18, of Durham faces charges including attempted murder in connection with the shooting at the Walmart in New Hope Commons. He was not in custody Wednesday night, police said.

The incident began around 3 p.m. after an argument between two men inside the store moved outside. According to witnesses, one of the men fired several shots, striking the second man in the stomach. A woman working in the eye center inside Walmart was shot in the ankle.

The 35-year-old male victim and the 38-year-old female victim were taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said. They did not name the two people.

Justin Atwater, 18, of Durham is charged with attempted murder in a shooting at New Hope Commons in Durham on March 28, 2018. Durham Police Department

Tammy Sofield of Durham said she was near the store exit and heard an argument between two people. They left the store and she heard "three pops."

Sofield said she saw the man lying on the ground and began applying pressure to his abdomen and hip, where he was bleeding.

Randall Bates, in town from Virginia for an appointment at the Veterans Affairs hospital, had just come out of Best Buy when he heard the shots across the parking lot.

"I heard gunshots, and I looked to see what it was," said Bates, an Army veteran who was trained as an infantry combat lifesaver. "I saw him lying there against the door."

A law enforcement officer approaches a man who has been shot in the side and lying at the entrance to the Walmart store in New Hope Commons in Durham, NC, shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

Bates took over from Sofield and began applying pressure to the wounds. He asked store employees to bring him towels.

"They key is to stop the bleeding and keep them breathing," Bates said.

Police arrived first, and then emergency medical workers, who took over treating the injured man.

Bates said he went inside the store and saw a woman barricaded in the vision department. She had been shot in the ankle, he said.

A light blue car was seen speeding away after the shooting. A Durham County sheriff’s deputy spotted a car matching the description on University Drive and tried to stop it, but the driver refused to stop, police said.

A chase ensued and two men and a juvenile female got out of the car on Arnold Road and ran. They were caught a short time later and brought to police headquarters where Investigators learned they were not involved in the shooting, but the vehicle had been reported stolen.

The two men were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The juvenile female was not charged and released.

After interviewing several people, investigators charged Atwater with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and attempted murder.

Police ask anyone who might know where Atwater is to call CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.