After a normal workday turned deadly at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, survivors and investigators are spending the Thanksgiving holiday questioning the motive of an employee who opened fire on co-workers, killing six. before fatally turning the gun on herself.
Officials said the workers were preparing for an overnight shift when a manager opened fire with a handgun in the break room just after 10 p.m.
Authorities identified those killed as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kelly Pyle, 52, and a 16-year-old boy, who is not being named Because she is a minor.
A spokeswoman for Centara Norfolk General Hospital said two people injured in the shooting were hospitalized in critical condition on Thanksgiving and one injured person was released Wednesday.
“I know this community and I know it well, and I know we will come together and help the families of the victims,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said in a video message Wednesday.
The shooting, yet another example of how horrific gun violence has upended American life in even the most traditional settings, left many grieving the loss of loved ones and the survivors they witnessed. As the long journey of processing those feelings begins, questions arise about what may have led to the murders.
They said Donna Prioleo was inside the employee break room when the shooter began firing at co-workers.
“We don’t know why he did it,” Priolue said. “None of us can understand why this happened.”
The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, who had been working as a “team lead” overnight. The company said the 31-year-old had been working for Walmart since 2010. Authorities have said he had a semi-automatic handgun and several ammunition magazines.
Before I started running, Bing shot three of Priolue’s friends. Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw blood all over the floor.
Two of the slain victims and the shooter were found in the break room, while another was found in front of the store, Chesapeake city officials said, and three others died at the hospital. Officials are trying to determine the exact number of injuries as some people may have taken themselves to hospital.
The mayor plans to hold a wake Monday evening in City Park, according to a tweet from the city.
Officials also tweeted Thursday, “Today we are focused solely on those affected by Tuesday’s tragic incident, but the police investigation is ongoing and we expect additional information to be available tomorrow.”
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Soleski said Wednesday that a motive for the shooting was not known.
Tuesday’s violence was at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month Gun Violence ArchiveAnd many people across the country are enduring this Thanksgiving amid a backdrop of grief as loved ones were lost or injured in shootings.
Just 170 miles west of the Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on fellow students on Nov. 13, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, D.C. .
Over the weekend, a 22-year-old man shot dead five people and wounded 19 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, officials said. And six months ago Thursday, a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, a tragedy in which the victims are still seeking answers.
“How do you celebrate when you are devastated. How do you give thanks when you have nothing to give? How do you fake it and smile when you wake up crying,” Brett Cross wrote Thursday of his nephew Uzziah Garcia, who was killed in Uvalde.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the US so far this year. Both the nonprofit and CNN define a mass shooting as one in which four or more people, including the assailant, are shot.
Speaking about the pandemic, former US Representative Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured in a 2011 mass shooting, tweeted on the eve of Thanksgiving for the reforms: “We became a country of gun violence and mass shootings Can’t continue to live. We can’t live like this. We must act.
In Chesapeake, the panic began less than an hour before stores were due to close after a busy holiday shopping day.
Recently hired Jesse Wilczewski told CNN she was in a regularly scheduled meeting in the break room when she saw the shooter pointing a gun at the door.
Initially, she didn’t think what she was seeing was real, but then she felt her chest pounding and her ears ringing as bullets rained down, she said. At first, it “didn’t register as real,” she said, until the sound of shots rang out in her chest.
As the gunman walked into a nearby hallway, Wilczewski hid under a table. She said she could see some of her co-workers lying on the floor or in chairs – all still and some likely dead. She stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run out that door… and I stayed. I stayed so that they would not be alone in their final moments,” Wilczewski said in a message to the families of the two victims.
When the shooter returned to the break room, Wilczewski said, he told her to get out from under the table and go home.
“I had to touch the door that was covered (in blood),” she said. “I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back — well, he’s going to have to try really hard because I’m running,’ and I booked it.” …and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a meltdown.
Brianna Tyler, also a newly hired employee, had just started her shift when the shooting began.
“All of a sudden you just hear pa pa pa pa pa pa,” Tyler told CNN, adding that bullets were flying inches from his face. “It wasn’t a break between them where you could really try to process it.”
Tyler said the shooter had “a blank stare on his face” as he looked around the room and fired at people.
“There were people just falling on the floor,” she said. “Everybody was screaming, gasping, and yeah, he just went after that and just kept running through the whole store and just kept shooting.”
Other employees said the shooter had displayed some troubling behavior in the past.
Shundraiya Rees, who worked with the shooter from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.
“He was always saying that the government is keeping an eye on him. He didn’t like social media and had put black tape on his phone camera. Everyone always thought something was wrong with him,” Reese said.
Joshua Johnson, a former maintenance worker at the store, said the shooter had made ominous threats if he ever lost his job.
“He said that if he was ever fired, he would retaliate and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.
Hear Walmart employee who witnessed shooting describe manager’s reputation
Neither Johnson nor Reese reported any concerns about Bing to management, they said.
Walmart said in a statement that it is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.
“We feel tragedies like this personally and deeply. But this one is especially painful because we learned that the gunman was a Walmart associate,” John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart US, said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken. Our hearts and prayers are with those affected.”
Credit : www.cnn.com