A manager at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened fire inside the store Tuesday evening, killing six people and hurting 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 spokesperson 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 just about an hour they had cleared the store and located all of the victims.
Two victims and the gunman were found dead in the break room, city officials said Wednesday afternoon. Another victim was found dead toward the front of the store. Three died at area hospitals.
In a statement, Walmart identified the gunman as Andre Bing. His position was “overnight team lead” and he started 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 multiple magazines.
Solesky said the gunman died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police were not seeking anyone else in connection with the shooting.
Walmart worker Briana Tyler told the Associated Press the shooting happened in the store’s break room. Between 15 and 20 people on the overnight stocking team were in the room for a meeting when her manager opened fire, Tyler said.
“It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me,” Tyler told the AP. “I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.”
She told the news service the shooting unfolded quickly and the gunman didn’t appear to be targeting specific people. City officials said in a statement the gunman was dressed in civilian clothing and not wearing any type of body armor.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room,” Tyler said. “It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any specific type of 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 evening 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.
At least six other people were receiving treatment at hospitals, the city said. Two patients at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital were in critical condition, Dr. Michael Hooper, the hospital’s chief medical officer, told reporters.
Johnson had only worked for Walmart for a couple of months and was saving up for her first car and apartment, CBS News Justice and Homeland Security reporter Nicole Sganga reports. James Pendleton said in a statement that his brother Brian “had a big heart for anybody who needed help” and “would give, literally, 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 show up and care for those who need it most,” the city said in a statement Wednesday night. “Please join us in praying for the family and friends of these community members who we have lost.”
The FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that the agency was providing assistance to the Chesapeake Police Department, which was the lead agency on the investigation.
A man who said he was a shopper described the scene in cellphone videoCBS News chief national affairs and Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.
“We heard several shots inside … and all ran out,” Jeromy Basham said. “There was a person down that’s still down out front.”
Another man said in a video he was among the Walmart employees inside the store when the shooting began, Pegues reports.
“I literally walked out the break room, right? And as soon as, probably about, no later than five minutes” there were gunshots, Kevin Harper said.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West released a statement early Wednesday morning saying he was “devastated by the senseless act of violence” and lauding first responders.
West told CBS News that thinking about how to respond to mass shootings has become part of the job for city leaders throughout the country.
“The first feeling was nothing but dread because here it was, I knew what we’d be having to face and what those poor families are going to be facing for years to come,” West said.
Chesapeake is located in southern Virginia’s coastal Hampton Roads region, which includes the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Kosinksi said a “reunification site” was established at the Chesapeake Conference Center, which a city Twitter account said was “for immediate family members or the emergency contact of those who may have been in the building.”
The incident was the second major mass shooting in the U.S. in just the past few days. Five peoplewhen a suspect opened fire in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the early morning hours Sunday.
“Sickened by reports of yet 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 and adding that “heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”
In its statement, Walmart said the company was “shocked at this tragic event” and “praying for those impacted, the community and our associates.”
The retail giant said it was “working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
Virginia state Senator Lillie Louise Lucas, a Democrat who represents the Chesapeake region that encompasses Chesapeake, said in a tweet that she was “heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district.”
“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” she said.
“Tragically, our community is suffering from yet another incident of senseless gun violence just as families are gathering for Thanksgiving,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia.
According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the United States this year, including at least 36 incidents with four or more fatalities.
A criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, Alan Fox, who has compiled data on shootings in the U.S. for decades, reported the same figure, which he said had made 2022 a record year for such attacks even prior to the incident at the Walmart in Chesapeake.
“I’ve been studying mass killings for over 40 years and I am quite confident that there has never been a year where we’ve had so many,” said Fox in an article published Monday by Northeastern, in the wake of the Colorado shooting.
Fox noted “an unprecedented surge” since the beginning of October alone, during which time he said there had been 13 fatal mass shootings.
“That’s an average of about two mass shootings per week,” Fox said.