CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov 23 (Reuters) – A manager at a Walmart Inc. (WMT.N) store in Virginia entered a break room and opened fire on fellow employees before turning the gun on himself, an eyewitness said on Wednesday, leaving a total of seven dead in the latest mass shooting in the United States.
The gunman, identified as Andre Bing, 31, of Chesapeake, Virginia, said nothing as he began firing on the workers gathered ahead of their shift late Tuesday, Walmart employee Briana Tyler told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Tyler said. “He didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything at all.”
At least four people were injured in the shooting, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky told a news conference. He did not disclose a possible motive for the shooting, but said the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Bing was armed with a single handgun and carried multiple magazines of ammunition, according to a tweet from Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people south of Norfolk.
Coming on the heels of the killing of five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub on Saturday, the latest massacre prompted another round of condemnations by public officials and calls by activists for tighter gun control.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday called the shooting “yet another horrific and senseless act of violence,” vowing any federal resources needed to aid in the investigation.
“There are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” he said in a statement, noting a shooting earlier this month that left three University of Virginia students dead. “We must take greater action.”
Bing worked at the company since 2010, most recently as an overnight team leader at the cavernous Walmart Supercenter just off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake.
“The Battlefield Walmart just got shot up by one of my managers. He killed a couple of people. By the grace of God I made it out,” another employee, Kevin Harper, told CBS.
Jessie Wilczewski told WAVY-TV that she hid under a table and the shooter pointed the gun at her and told her to go home.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the pow-pow-pow. You can feel it,” the store employee said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud. I could feel it.”
Tuesday’s bloodshed marked the latest spasm of gun violence in the United States, where an average of two mass shootings — defined as an incident killing or injuring four or more people — occur every day, according to GunViolenceArchive.org.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who was already facing stepped-up calls for policies to address gun violence in the wake of the University of Virginia killings, ordered flags at local, state and federal buildings to be flown at half-staff.
“Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities,” Youngkin wrote on Twitter.
It is not the first mass shooting at a Walmart, which has thousands of stores across the country.
At a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, 23 people were killed in a mass shooting near the U.S.-Mexico border in an act described as domestic terrorism by law enforcement. It was also the deadliest attack on the Hispanic community in modern times. Patrick Wood Crusius, then 21, from Allen, Texas, was arrested in the shooting and he left behind a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes.
“The devastating news of last night’s shooting at our Chesapeake, VA store at the hands of one of our associates has hit our Walmart family hard,” Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon wrote in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday. “We are here for them today and in the challenging days ahead they will have our support.”
Reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey, Bharat Govind Gautam, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Shubham Kalia; Additional reporting by Juby Babu; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Nick Macfie, Gareth Jones and Mark Porter
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