HIRAM, GA – A tragic incident unfolded at a local Walmart in Hiram on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in the deaths of two individuals in what appears to be a murder-suicide. The victims were identified as James Wyatt Norton, 26, and Zoey Nicole Messenger, 20, both residents of Hiram.
The incident took place around 7:30 p.m. on September 20 at the Walmart Super Center located at 4166 Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway, near the GA-92 intersection. Hiram Police Chief Mike Turner stated that initial investigations indicate this was not an active shooter situation, but a tragic confrontation between two individuals who knew each other.
Upon reaching the scene, officers found Norton and Messenger with gunshot wounds. Given the severity of their injuries, they were immediately transported to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. Unfortunately, both were declared dead upon arrival.
Chief Turner expressed his empathy for the witnesses and shoppers who experienced the shock and fear of the incident. Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and were instructed to evacuate the store immediately. One witness, Devani Lopez, described the panic, “As soon as I heard the second shot, I ran straight for the exit…I could see everyone running for their lives. Everyone was just so panicked and scared.”
Chief Turner, who has been in office for two years, acknowledged that such an event was unprecedented in the city. He characterized the incident as opportunistic in nature.
Walmart issued a statement expressing their sorrow over the tragic event and assured that the safety of their associates and customers is their priority. The store will remain closed while they cooperate with law enforcement during their investigation.
The Hiram Police Department has indicated that more details will be released following the processing of the scene, a review of surveillance footage, interviews with witnesses, and notification of the families involved.