John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, Paul Bibeau, and George L. ortiz
Chesapeake, Virginia – Flags were flying across Virginia at half-staff on Wednesday hours after a store manager opened fire before an employee meeting at Walmart, killing six people, as the country grapples with deadly gun violence. The wave was on.
Chesapeake police spokesman Leo Kosinski said officers responded to a 911 call Tuesday night and found several people injured or hiding in the store and that rescue and tactical teams provided “life-saving measures.”
City officials said at least six survivors were taken to local hospitals, including one in critical condition. Police said around 50 people were present in the shop at the time of the attack. Officials did not say whether any of those killed or injured were customers.
Police identified those killed as Chesapeake residents Brian Pendleton, 38; Kelly Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Bolvins, 70, with Tyneka Johnson, 22, of nearby Portsmouth. The name of the sixth victim, a 16-year-old boy, was not released because of his age.
The shooting comes three days after a man with a rifle shot dead five people and injured 17 at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“You hope a day like this never comes, but we train for it, we practice, we talk about it, we learn our lessons,” Chesapeake City Manager Chris Price said at a briefing Wednesday. ” “You hope those lessons never have to be put to use.”
Police Chief Mark Soleski said the first 911 call came in at 10:12 p.m. and the first officers arrived two minutes later. Soleski said the assailant died of a self-shot wound and a handgun was recovered from the scene. Police said the gunman had several magazines.
City officials said the bodies of the two victims and the shooter were found in the store’s break room. One body was found in front of the store, and three other victims were taken to local hospitals but died of their injuries.
Walmart identified the gunman as Andre Bing, 31, a “team leader” who had worked for the company since 2010. He was found dead in the break room along with two other people. Police said they searched his home in Chesapeake and that investigators are trying to determine a motive for the attack.
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‘She looked straight at me’
employee Briana Tyler told ABC The employees had gathered in the store’s break room at the start of a shift on “Good Morning America” when the gunman, a manager, walked in and began firing indiscriminately without saying a word.
“He literally started shooting all over the break room,” she said. “And I saw several people fall to the floor, whether they were trying to duck for cover or they were hit. … They looked straight at me, but luckily they were like an inch or two away.” Missed my head.”
Tyler, who joined Walmart two months ago and worked nights with Bing, said she was told to be careful with him because Bing had a history of texting employees for no reason, but her Never had a negative encounter with him.
Employee Jessie Wilczewski told WAVY-TV she was hiding under a table when the shooter pointed his gun at her — then told her to go home.
“It didn’t seem real until you … could feel the ‘pow-pow-pow.’ You can feel it,” Wilzewski said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I think it was too loud. I could feel it.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN that she received text messages from her mother, who was inside the store when the shots were fired. His mother, Betsy Umflett, was not injured.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffrey said. “I talked to her about buying a turkey for Thanksgiving, then this text came.”
‘Toughest time of the year’ for those in retail
Antonio Garcia, 31, a Houston truck driver, said he went to Walmart for supplies just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, when he walked back to his truck he saw police vehicles gathered in the parking lot and people exited the building. He said that he saw one person bleeding from the head and found out that there was a bullet.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I was talking to my wife. She was like, ‘You have to pray.’
Maralee Santiago, 31, a receptionist at Waynes Home, a furniture and mattress store next to Walmart, called it “the toughest time of the year” for people in retail and said employees regularly worry about their safety. We do. She was found by a co-worker shopping at Walmart on Tuesday night, an hour before the shooting. “My heart dropped,” she said.
President Joe Biden issued a statement thanking first responders and pledging support and assistance. He referenced a gun reform law passed earlier this year and urged “big action” to stop gun violence.
“Due to yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” the statement said. “There are now more families dealing with the worst kind of loss and pain imaginable.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was assisting with the investigation. Glenn Youngkin, who ordered flags to fly at half-staff on Sunday, said he was making state resources available.
“Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning,” he said.
Mayor Rick W. West also commended 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 tweeted. “Chesapeake is a tight-knit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
Concern and rumors spread in the hours following the attack. At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the city posted a notice on Twitter warning that “rumors of an active shooter at Target in Chesapeake are untrue. Please help us control the rumors by only sharing information from this account.”
Comic and former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah, a native of Chesapeake, said on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my city and my anger grows at the exaggeration of these acts. Right in my backyard, right where I grew up. Chesapeake is strong and we will remain but this has to stop. Too many innocents lost and not enough attention is paid to change that.”
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Chesapeake shooting latest in wave of deadly attacks
The shooting in Chesapeake is the latest incident to shake the nation days after A massacre at a well-known LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left five dead and 17 injured.
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.
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Family, friends want word about loved ones in Walmart shooting
Police tweeted that a family reunion site has been set up at the Chesapeake Convention Center.
With students shopping and working at Walmart, Chesapeake Public Schools teacher Amanda Lambert was alarmed when she learned about the shooting Tuesday night.
“It was the second time in half a week that I wondered if my students were okay,” said Lambert, 42, as an alumnus (who attends the University of Virginia, site of a recent attack).
It was a relief to see his students back in school on Wednesday, but Lambert said he was angry: “I don’t see anything changing.”
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Walmart again site of mass shooting
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.”
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia tweeted that he was “sickened by reports 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.”
Chesapeake, Virginia’s second largest city with about 250,000 people, is 100 miles southeast of the capital, Richmond. The city is located on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, just a few miles from Virginia Beach beach and downtown Norfolk.
The city says on its website, “Chesapeake offers an endless array of outdoor activities, terrific shopping, exceptional dining, and beautiful wildlife.”
contribution: Charles Ventura, USA Today; The Associated Press