The suburban Stop & Shop manager gunned down in his office was a gregarious guy who found time for everyone — including a colleague charged with his murder.
Long Island friends, family and neighbors of Ray Wishropp recalled the shooting victim Wednesday as a new grandfather, an endlessly generous man, the devoted father of seven kids. The 49-year-old Valley Stream resident was shot and killed Tuesday by a gunman who worked at the store, with authorities arresting Gabriel DeWitt Wilson after a four-hour manhunt.
“Honestly, I heard he was one of the only ones who talked to that guy at the store,” said neighbor Mary Ellen Vacari of Wishropp. “He was friendly with him. So what happened was really a tragedy, it really was.”
Wilson, 31, was arraigned and held without bail Wednesday as Wishropp’s relatives and longtime friends mourned his violent demise. The suspect pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder for wounding two other workers and shooting at two more in the terrifying two-minute rampage.
The victim’s cousin, Alex Bernard, said he was told Wishropp was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and that the killer wasn’t targeting him.
“My family is very heartbroken today, because we lost a very genuine, great person,” said Bernard outside the victim’s home. “He had a big heart, and anybody that knew him knew the kind of person he was.”
Joseph Aggerup, the victim’s best friend since they were six-year-olds, was devastated by Wishropp’s unprovoked killing.
“A genuine, all-around awesome guy,” recalled Aggerup. “Does anything for anybody … He’s a great guy to anybody that knows him. You just love him instantly.”
Wilson, 31, was arrested hours after marching into the supermarket’s offices at 11:18 a.m. and opening fire with a .380 semi-automatic handgun, squeezing off seven shots at five store employees.
The Stop & Shop worker, who collected shipping carts outside the store, is accused of fatally blasting Wishropp after wounding two other colleagues in a nearby second-floor office at the West Hempstead business.
“Ray had no enemies, none whatsoever,” said Manny Baksh the victim’s roommate and a friend of more than 25 years. “Took away a great guy, for no reason … I can’t believe he’s gone, I really can’t. He was a great guy. Big heart, generous.”
Wilson had three prior arrests in Baltimore before coming to Long Island, where authorities said he was the subject of mental health crisis calls in 2016 and 2019. He was busted for assault in July 2006, for narcotics in May 2011 and for attempted murder for an April 2014 gunfight in which he was shot in the head.
“Gabriel was a troubled employee, and in the months prior to this incident, he was having unwanted advances toward females that worked there,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, head of the Nassau County Police homicide unit. “He was having disputes with other workers and threatening them.”
About 40 minutes before the shooting, the gunman asked a store manager about transferring to another branch of the store chain in Hempstead. There was no confrontation, with Wilson leaving the office quietly before returning with the still-missing weapon, cops said.
A second manager, age 50, survived the rampage after two taking two bullets to the shoulder and one to the face, while a 26-year-old female employee was shot twice in her shoulder, officials said.
Two other women working in the store escaped without injury after Wilson fired at both, and the store will remain closed till further notice, according to Stop & Shop spokesperson Stefanie Shuman.
Neighbor Vacari and her husband, who saw Wishropp on his way to work Tuesday morning, were still reeling a day after the killing.
“He always waved, always said hello,” she recalled of her neighbor. “He was just an all-around good guy, and it seems that’s who it happens to.”