An employee opened fire at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, killing six people and injuring at least five others, officials said.
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Soleski said at a briefing Wednesday that the first 911 call came in at 10:12 p.m. Tuesday and the first officers arrived two minutes later at 10:16, entering the store. He said the assailant was found dead at the scene.
Police spokesman Leo Kosinski said rescue and tactical teams had cleared the stores providing life-saving supplies. Kosinski said officers believed the shootings had already stopped before police arrived.
“You hope a day like this never comes, but we train for it, we practice, we talk about it, we learn our lessons,” City manager Chris Price said at the briefing. “You hope those lessons never have to be put to use.”
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Centara Healthcare, said five of the Walmart patients were being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. His terms were not immediately available.
Mayor Rick W. West praised the efforts of first responders in a statement posted on Twitter.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence late last night in our city,” West said. “Chesapeake is a tight-knit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
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The shooting in Chesapeake is the latest incident to rock the nation, days after a massacre at a well-known LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left five people dead. Earlier this month, three University of Virginia football players were killed and two others were hospitalized after a campus shooting — the same day four University of Idaho students were found dead with multiple stab wounds.
USA Today, a database run by The Associated Press and Northeastern University that tracks mass killings since 2006, counts 40 mass killings so far this year, second only to 45 for all of 2019 . The database defines mass murder as at least four people. Killed, not including the murderer.
In Chesapeake, police tweeted that a family reunion site has been set up at the Chesapeake Convention Center. Among those gathered outside early Wednesday was Camille Buggs, a former Walmart employee who told The Virginian-Pilot that she hoped to learn about the fate of some of her former co-workers she had not been able to reach after the shooting.
“You always say you don’t think this will happen in your city, in your neighborhood, in your store, in your favorite store,” Buggs, 58, of Chesapeake, told the outlet. “That’s the thing that surprised me.”
Dazed employees also gathered at a nearby Sam’s Club, WAVY-TV reports, where attendance was up. Police say that all the employees have been challaned.
Officers asked people to stay away from the scene. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was assisting with the investigation.
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The Chesapeake is about 100 miles southeast of Richmond. Sen. Mark Warner tweeted that he was “horrified by the news of another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”
State Sen. Louis Lucas echoed Warner’s sentiment, tweeting that he was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting occurred at a Walmart in my district.”
A Walmart in El Paso, Texas, was the scene of one of the country’s bloodiest attacks in 2019, when a gunman police say targeted Mexicans, killing 22 people.
Walmart released a statement on Twitter Early Wednesday: “We are shocked by this tragic incident at our Chesapeake, Virginia store. We are praying for those affected, the community, and our partners. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we support our partners.” focusing on doing.”
Contributing: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; The Associated Press