Murder-Suicide in Crowded New York City Home Depot

New York City

A New York City Home Depot employee shot his supervisor to death and then killed himself on Sunday afternoon. The shootings occurred inside of the store, which was open for business and full of customers at the time. The home improvement store was especially busy on Sunday as shoppers preparing for an upcoming snowstorm filled carts in preparation.

The shooter, whose body was discovered at the scene with a single gunshot wound to the face, has been identified as Calvin Esdaile Jr., 31. His supervisor, 38, was shot three times in the chest and abdomen. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital in New York City, but was dead upon arrival.

During a news conference held outside of the Chelsea store, which is located near Sixth Avenue on West 23rd Street in New York City, Detective Steven Wren said that before the shooting, which occurred at approximately 2:40 p.m., the two men had briefly spoken. The New York Daily News reports that other witnesses to the shooting claim that Esdaile Jr. shot his supervisor out of revenge. One said that he had heard that the shooter had been fired and that he had returned to the store to seek vengeance. He had not been scheduled for work on Sunday.

Witnesses at the scene said the shooting took place near the store’s lighting department. One shopper likened the sound of the shot to “a big refrigerator [which] had fallen over,” after which a woman was heard “screaming” and “howling.” She said shoppers did not know if there was an active shooting situation taking place. Some were hiding, some praying and some running for the exits. Shopper Howard Mash was at the New York City Home Depot to buy light bulbs. The 65-year-old told the New York Daily News that in the chaos, he lost track of his wife. He hid inside of a storage closet along with six other shoppers.

New York City police arrived shortly after the shooting began and quickly began to evacuate the store. Some of the seventy employees who had been working at the store when the shots rang out gathered in a parking lot across the street. The majority of them, who had rushed from the store wearing only their shirts and orange aprons, huddled together for warmth while a man also clad in a Home Depot apron walked among them, making sure that all scheduled employees were accounted for.

Calvin Esdaile Sr., 52, is the shooter’s father. He said his son was from Jamaica and had come to the United States in 2006. He lived in Brooklyn and had a son who is six years old. The father was shocked, saying that he was unaware of any violence in his son’s past. He told New York Daily News that he had spent time with his son two weeks ago, during which time Esdaile Jr. had said that “he liked his job,” and “was always telling me, ‘I’m going to work.'”

A spokesperson for Home Depot, Stephen Holmes, said on Sunday evening that “We’re deeply saddened by this tragedy.” The store is cooperating with investigators in what they call an “isolated incident.”

By Jennifer Pfalz

New York Daily News
The New York Times

Photo by Mike Mozart – License