A heavily-armed ex-Marine rifleman in camouflage gear gunned down two co-workers in a New Jersey supermarket rampage before killing himself early Friday, officials said.
Terrell Tyler, 23, punched out from his graveyard shift at the Pathmark store at 3:30 a.m. and returned 30 minutes later with murderous intent — along with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun.
The disgruntled worker, hired just two weeks ago, squeezed off 16 rifle shots at the skeleton crew as terrified co-workers scrambled for their lives before sunrise, officials said.
Defenseless Cristina Lobrutto, 18, of Old Bridge, N.J., and her friend Bryan Breen, 24, of Laurence Harbor, N.J., were killed, while a dozen colleagues escaped the carnage unharmed.
A store manager reportedly steered most of the survivors to safety through a back door before Tyler committed suicide.
Lobrutto was covering a shift for a friend when the shooting started, with Tyler blasting out two of the front windows during the unprovoked attack.
The shooter was carrying extra magazines of ammunition, the assault rifle and a handgun when the killings began, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
@xommiranda via Twitter
Cristina LoBrutto, left, was shot and killed at a Pathmark in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
Bryan Breen via Facebook
Bryan Breen, 24, was shot and killed at a Pathmark in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
Tyler worked as a stockboy in the Old Bridge store on Route 9, according to another employee.
Tyler and his two victims were all at work when he left at the end of his shift. The gunman lived in an apartment about a block from the Old Bridge supermarket.
Tyler, who once lived in Brooklyn, spent nearly two years in the Marine Corps — stationed mostly in California. The lance corporal, whose military specialty was rifleman, was discharged on Feb. 27, 2010.
Terence S. Tyler, 23, served in the U.S. Marines Corps. from 2008 to 2010, and most recently held the rank of lance corporal and was a rifleman
He received a pair of medals during his time in the Marines, and never served overseas, according to USMC records.
Family members at his apartment Friday said they were unaware of any mental problems or other issues with the killer.
“He was a quiet guy,” said an uncle, who identified himself only as Chris. “He was alright. We just want to offer our condolences to all the victims’ families.”
A fellow resident in the apartment complex said Tyler was a bit of a loner.
Norman Y. Lono/for New York Daily News
A heavily armed ex-Marine gunned down two co-workers in an unprovoked New Jersey supermarket rampage before killing himself early Friday, officials said.
The New Jersey store was still two hours from opening at the time of the bloody attack. When police arrived, the killer was already dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, officials said.
Kaplan said the motive for the double murder-suicide remained unclear.
Other acquaintances of Tyler were stunned by his part in the inexplicable killings.
“He was a normal kid,” said Manase Acheampong, 25, who last saw the killer down the Jersey shore on the Fourth of July. “That’s why I’m shocked. I never would have guessed it in a million years.”
Pathmark worker Mike Pizoto, 17, said he recently shared a cigarette with the shooter.
“He seemed nice,” Pizoto told the News. “He didn’t seem like he would kill people. I’m shocked. I can’t believe this happened.”
The suburban store, about 30 miles south of Manhattan, wasn’t due to open for another two hours when Tyler returned to his workplace, officials said.
Pathmark’s corporate owner issued a statement of sympathy to the victims and their relatives.
“We are terribly saddened by the incident at our Old Bridge Pathmark store this morning,” said the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and our appreciation to local law enforcement ... We continue to work with local authorities during the investigation.”
Commuters were steered away from a nearby NJ Transit park-and-ride lot as law enforcement shut down the area around the store-turned-crime scene.
Store workers who survived the attack huddled outside a nearby restaurant.