A manager at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened fire inside the store Tuesday night, killing six people and wounding at least six more at the retail outlet before turning the gun on himself, officials said Wednesday.
Officers were dispatched to an active threat situation at the Walmart Supercenter at 10:12 p.m. local time, Chesapeake police spokesman Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, Police Chief Mark Solesky said officers were on the scene within two minutes, entered the store two minutes after that and within only about an hour had cleared the store and found all the victims.
Two victims and the gunman were found dead in the break room, according to city officials said wednesday Afternoon. Another victim was found dead towards the front of the store. Three died in area hospitals.
In a statement, Walmart identified the gunman as Andre Bing. His position was “overnight team lead” and he began working for Walmart in 2010, the company said. City officials said the gunman was 31 years old and that he was armed with a handgun and several magazines.
Solesky said the gunman died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the shooting.
Walmart worker Briana Tyler told the Associated Press that the shooting happened in the store’s break room. Between 15 and 20 people on the overnight stocking crew were in the room for a meeting when her manager opened fire, Tyler said.
“It’s by the grace of God that a bullet missed me,” Tyler told the AP. “I saw the smoke coming out of the gun and I literally saw bodies falling. It was crazy.”
She told the news service that the shooting unfolded quickly and it did not appear that the gunman was targeting specific individuals. City officials said in a announcement the gunman was dressed in civilian clothes and not wearing any type of armor.
“He was just shooting all over the room,” Tyler said. “It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody a certain way.”
Two of the deceased victims were identified by family members as Tyneka Johnson, 22, and Brian Pendleton, 39. The city of Chesapeake identified the remaining adult victims Wednesday night as Lorenzo Gamble, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins. The identity of the sixth victim, a 16-year-old boy, was withheld because he was a minor, the city said said.
At least six other people received treatment in hospitals, the city said. Two patients at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital were in critical condition, Dr. Michael Hooper, the hospital’s chief physician, to reporters.
Johnson had only worked for Walmart for a few months and was saving up for his first car and apartment, reports CBS News Justice and Homeland Security reporter Nicole Sganga. James Pendleton said in a statement that his brother Brian “had a big heart for anyone who needed help” and would “literally give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it more than him.”
“The City of Chesapeake has always been known as ‘the city that cares,’ and now, more than ever, we know our city will step up and take care of those who need it most,” the city said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Please join us in praying for the family and friends of these community members that we have lost.”
The FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia office confirmed that the agency was assisting the Chesapeake Police Department, which was the lead agency in the investigation.
A man who said he was a shopper described the scene in mobile phone videoreports CBS News Chief of National Affairs and Justice Correspondent Jeff Pegues.
“We heard multiple shots inside … and everybody ran out,” Jeromy Basham said. “There was a person down who is still down in the front.”
Another man said in a video that he was among the Walmart employees inside the store when the shooting began, Pegues reports.
“I literally walked out of the break room, right? And then soon, probably about, no later than five minutes,” there were shots, Kevin Harper said.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West issued a statement early Wednesday morning, he said he was “devastated by the senseless act of violence” and praised first responders.
West told CBS News that thinking about how to respond to mass shootings has become part of the job for city leaders across the country.
“The first feeling was nothing but fear because here I was knowing what we were going to face and what the poor families are going to face in the years to come,” West said.
Chesapeake is located in southern Virginia’s coastal Hampton Roads area, which includes the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Kosinksi said a “reunion location” was established at the Chesapeake Conference Center, which a city Twitter account said was “for immediate family members or emergency contact with those who may have been in the building.”
The incident was the second major mass shooting in the United States in the past few days. Five peoplewhen a suspect opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“Sickened by reports of another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia tweeted early Wednesday morning.
Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, also weighed in, saying: “Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning,” in a tweet, adding that “heinous acts of violence have no place in our community.”
In its statement, Walmart said the company was “shocked by this tragic event” and “praying for those affected, the community and our employees.”
The retail giant said it was “working closely with law enforcement and we are focused on supporting our employees.”
Virginia state senator Lillie Louise Lucasa Democrat representing the Chesapeake region that includes Chesapeake said in a tweet that she was “devastated that America’s latest mass shooting took place at a Walmart in my district.”
“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this epidemic of gun violence in our country that has taken so many lives,” she said.
“Tragically, our community suffers another incident of senseless gun violence just as families gather for Thanksgiving,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia.
According to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the United States this year, with at least 36 resulting in deaths.
A criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, Alan Fox, who has collected data on shootings in the United States for decades, reported the same figure, which he said had made 2022 a record year for such attacks even before the incident at the Walmart in Chesapeake.
“I’ve studied mass killings for over 40 years, and I’m pretty confident that there’s never been a year where we’ve had so many,” Fox said in an article published Monday by Northeasternin the aftermath of the shooting in Colorado.
Fox noted “an unprecedented increase” since early October alone, when he said there had been 13 fatal mass shootings.
“That’s an average of about two mass shootings a week,” Fox said.