OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – One man is being called a hero for saving lives during Friday’s supermarket shooting in New Jersey.
Tonight, for the first time, this assistant manager is speaking out about those chaotic and deadly moments.
CBS2’s Dave Carlin spoke to Rolando Reyes just steps away from the Pathmark in Old Bridge where his overnight Friday shift went from mundane to murderous.
Reyes, the supervisor on that tragic morning recalls shooter Terence Tyler at work and seemingly normal. But then the 23-year-old vanished from the store.
“We thought he stepped out for something. We didn’t know where he went,” Reyes told Carlin exclusively.
Reyes said he was outside on his break when he saw Tyler again, walking at him, and the nightmare started.
“As he walked into the light…I started to run and that’s when I heard the shot behind me,” he said.
Miraculously, he was unharmed and he could have escaped the store, but ran right inside.
His swift actions likely saved countless lives as he yelled out for everyone to run.
“If me running into the store… alarmed people [of the] terror coming behind me I’m glad for that,” he said.
People hid in a storeroom, a freezer, and in other areas.
Killed were 18-year-old Cristina LoBrutto and 24-year-old Bryan Breen.
Reyes said he thinks about them constantly.
“Very tough thinking about co-workers, friends. You’re not going to see them anymore,” he said.
Reyes said he is puzzled that something snapped for Tyler, who he said seemed dedicated to the job and appeared to have no enemies at work. What set him off is a mystery.
“He was a quiet dude. Worked with him three days. Hustled worked hard,” he said.
Reyes said what he wants now is healing – for himself and for his loyal team at work and for his community In Old Bridge.
The two supermarket employees killed during the rampage both died from single gunshot wounds.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan says autopsies were performed Saturday on LoBrutto and Breen.
Tyler committed suicide by shooting himself once in the head with a handgun.
All three were pronounced dead at the scene. About a dozen other workers who were in the store were able to escape the shooting and were not hurt.
The supermarket has been shuttered since the shootings occurred, and a Pathmark spokeswoman said Sunday that it was not known when the store might reopen.
It’s still not clear what sparked the shootings. Authorities are investigating his motive, but family members said Tyler – who once tweeted about killing “everyone I see” – was discharged from the Marines two years ago after suffering from depression and had never gotten over his mother’s death about five years ago.
Authorities said Tyler left his job as an overnight clerk at the supermarket around 3:30 a.m. He drove off and returned to the store shortly afterward with a handgun and an assault rifle similar to an AK-47.
Tyler, who was dressed in camouflage gear, fired more than 16 rounds from his rifle – shooting first at an employee standing outside the closed store and blowing out windows, authorities said. He then went inside and shot at five other workers in an aisle, including LoBrutto and Breen.
Authorities say Tyler had worked at the store for less than two weeks.
Tyler’s Twitter account, which had a photograph identified by family members as Tyler, interspersed posts about hating Marine life, expressions of violence, and his take on football, movies, women and other interests.
“smh is it normal to want to kill ALL of ur coworkers? Maybe but I’m actually in a position where I can, smh,” he wrote in June 2009, using the handle @Tylerbkstyle and the abbreviation “smh” for “shaking my head.”
Tyler tweeted months later about killing.
“I’m starting to see why plp go on killin sprees,” he wrote. And these (obscenity) are reeeeeeally pushin my kill everyone I see button.”
At the top of Tyler’s Facebook page was the motto: “Be optimistic. All the people you hate are going to eventually die.”
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)