SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — A fight with his girlfriend likely caused a man already suffering from mental health issues to randomly shoot two people at a Sevierville outlet mall, according to investigators.
Sevierville Police Department detectives have completed their investigation of the April 16 shooting at Tanger Five Oaks Mall.
According to a release from the City of Sevierville, 21-year-old Leon Steven Jones, Jr. went to the mall in a car driven by his girlfriend, where they were planning to go shopping. They parked the car in the Coach/American Eagle parking area.
Investigators said they believe Jones was already suffering from mental health issues and became suicidal after an argument with his girlfriend at the mall. He had reportedly expressed suicidal thoughts in the past, but never acted upon them.
Detectives believe his girlfriend was unaware that he was armed and that he had any intention of shooting himself or anyone else.
After the fight, Jones got out of the car and headed towards the Coach store, where he encountered 24-year-old Olivia Cunningham. He fatally shot the Pennsylvania woman in the head, then turned and walked quickly towards 75-year-old John Marr and shot him in chest. Jones then shot himself in the head, according to the final report.
The release stated Cunningham and Jones were pronounced dead at the scene. Marr, who was visiting East Tennessee from Massachusetts, was treated at a hospital and released a few days later.
When the first officer arrived, he saw two people on the ground outside the Coach store, later identified as Jones and Cunningham.
Detectives said a witness told the officer another victim had been taken into the American Eagle store where witnesses were attempting to treat his injury. The officer entered the store and began performing first aid on the victim, later identified as Marr.
Jones fired three bullets during the incident. When officers recovered the gun, a Keltec P32 semi-automatic handgun, there were two bullets remaining in the magazine, which was capable of holding 10 bullets. No other weapons or ammunition were found on Jones or the vehicle he traveled in to the mall, according to the release.
Detectives haven't been able to determine where Jones got the gun, which he was not permitted to own because he was a convicted felon.
“I am very proud of the men and women of the Sevierville Police Department,” said SPD Chief Joseph Manning. “Our dispatchers, patrol officers, and investigators responded to this event in an efficient and professional manner. I want to thank the Pigeon Forge Police Department for their rapid response in assisting us, as well as the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, Sevier County Emergency Management Agency, and the Gatlinburg Police Department for offering assistance. I also want to thank the Tanger management for their quick emergency notification of stores within the mall.”