Grand Forks Wal-Mart shooter was legally drunk

GRAND FORKS -- The gunman who shot two Wal-Mart employees last week was legally drunk, preliminary toxicology reports show, but it is still unknown whether he was under the influence of any other drugs.

GRAND FORKS -- The gunman who shot two Wal-Mart employees last week was legally drunk, preliminary toxicology reports show, but it is still unknown whether he was under the influence of any other drugs.

Marcell Travon Willis, 21, had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19 percent, more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, when he drove to the southside Wal-Mart in Grand Forks shortly after 1 a.m. May 26.

Wielding a 9 mm handgun, Willis shot and injured Lisa Braun, 47, and fatally shot Gregory Weiland, 70, sending shoppers running for the exits or for shelter inside the store.

Willis then shot at but missed a third, unidentified Wal-Mart employee before fatally shooting himself in the head, according to an autopsy.

Willis, originally of Springfield, Tenn., was an active senior airman at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, where he had been stationed since February 2013.


Grand Forks Police reported Willis' blood alcohol concentration in a media release issued Wednesday morning, but it is yet to be seen whether Willis had any other substances in his system.

"The preliminary report tells absolutely nothing about the presence or absence of anything else in the blood," said Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel.

The test that detects alcohol in the bloodstream is "fairly simple and straightforward," Zimmel said, but tests to detect other substances require more time.

Police said the preliminary results are incomplete and may change as more testing is conducted. The final results are expected to be completed in four to six weeks, police said.

Investigation continues

Police are still investigating what prompted the shooting and have not been able to identify any ties between Willis and either the shooting victims or the store, according to a release.

Police declined Wednesday to say where Willis, who lived on the base, had been before going to Wal-Mart and what he had been doing that night.

Last week, Zimmel said two people rode as passengers with Willis to Wal-Mart but stayed in the car while Willis went into the store. Investigators are treating the two passengers as witnesses, rather than suspects, because they "truly knew nothing" of Willis' intentions, Zimmel said.


Zimmel said last week he did not believe either passenger knew Willis was carrying a gun.

Zimmel declined Wednesday to release information from any witness statements, including those of the two passengers, saying he wanted to "preserve the integrity of the investigation."

The investigation is ongoing, Zimmel said, and investigators did not want to release any information that could impact what a prospective witness would say.

"This is a homicide investigation. It's something we need to remain neutral on," he said.

Zimmel said investigators would give the public a play-by-play of what happened that night leading up to the shooting once the investigation is over and if no one is charged as a result of the investigation.

Braun, an overnight general manager who has worked at Wal-Mart since September 2009, has been released from the hospital.

Weiland was an overnight cashier who had worked at Wal-Mart for nearly 25 years, according to Brian Nick, a Wal-Mart spokesman. Before moving to Grand Forks, Weiland farmed near Thief River Falls, Minn.

The southside Wal-Mart reopened last Thursday after it was closed Tuesday and Wednesday as Grand Forks Police processed the crime scene, giving employees a chance to grieve the death of a friend and colleague. On Wednesday, Bio Tec Emergency Services, a company based in Forest Lake, Minn., which partly specializes in cleaning up crime scenes, decontaminated the store.


Wal-Mart hired a Grand Forks-based company to temporarily provide extra security at both stores in the days after the shooting. The Grand Forks Police Department also has sent officers to the store since the shooting to put Wal-Mart shoppers and employees more at ease.

What To Read Next
Get Local