After a normal work day turned deadly at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, survivors and investigators spend the Thanksgiving holiday questioning the motive of an employee who shot co-workers, killing six before turning the gun on himself.
Employees were getting ready for a night shift Tuesday when a supervisor opened fire in the break room just after 10 p.m., officials said.
Authorities identified the victims as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52, and a 16-year-old boy, whose name has not been released because he is a minor. .
Two people injured in the shooting remained in critical condition at the hospital on Thanksgiving, and one injured victim was released Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said.
“I know this nation, and I know it well. And I know we will come together to help the families of the victims,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said Wednesday in a video message.
The shooting, which is yet another example of how horrific gun violence elevates the lives of ordinary Americans, has left many grieving the loss of loved ones and survivors traumatized by what they saw. As the long process of coming to terms with those feelings begins, questions remain about what could have caused the murders.
She said Donya Prioleau was in the lounge when the gunman started shooting at her co-workers.
Prioleau said: “We don’t know what made him do that. None of us can understand why it happened.
The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, who was acting as a “squad leader” overnight. The 31-year-old has worked for Walmart since 2010, the company said. Authorities said he was in possession of one semi-automatic handgun and several ammunition magazines.
Bing shot three of Prioleau’s friends “before I started running. “Half of us didn’t believe it was true until some of us saw all the blood on the ground,” he said.
Two gunshot victims were found in the restroom, one victim was found in the front of the store, and three others died at the hospital, Chesapeake city officials said. Officials were still trying to determine the exact number of injuries as it is possible that some people were taken to hospitals.
The mayor plans to hold a vigil Monday evening at City Park, according to the tweet from the city.
“Today we are only focusing on those affected by Tuesday’s tragic incident, but the police investigation is ongoing and we expect to have more information tomorrow,” officials said in a Thursday tweet.
The motive for the shooting was unclear Thursday, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said.
This weekend’s violence was at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and it comes against the backdrop of grief as many Americans around the country endure this Thanksgiving. as loved ones were lost or injured in the shooting.
Just 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on his classmates on November 13, killing three of them on a bus back to campus from on a trip to Washington, DC.
Over the weekend, a 22-year-old shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, authorities said. And six months ago Thursday, a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers, a tragedy in which the victims are still searching for answers.
“How do you celebrate when you’re broke. How can you give thanks, when you have nothing to give. How do you do it and smile when you wake up crying,” Brett Cross wrote Thursday about his niece, Uziyah Garcia, who was killed in Uvalde.
In total, the US has heard more than 600 shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the nonprofit and CNN define mass shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, not including the attacker.
When we talk about this epidemic, of Arizona Former US Representative Gabby Giffords, who was fatally injured in a 2011 mass shooting, tweeted Thanksgiving Eve’s plea for change: “We cannot continue to be a nation of gun violence and mass shootings. We cannot live like this. We must act. ”
In Chesapeake, the panic started less than an hour before the store closed after a busy day of holiday shopping.
Jessie Wilczewski, who had just been hired, told CNN that she was in a regular meeting in the break room when she saw the shooter at the door pointing a gun.
At first, he didn’t think what he was seeing was real, but then he felt his chest pounding and his ears ringing as a wave of gunfire erupted. At first, he said, “it didn’t register as real,” until the gunshots rang out in his chest.
Wilczewski hid under a table as the gunman came down a nearby hallway. He could see his colleagues on the floor or lying on chairs – all quiet and some dead. He stayed because he didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I would have run out that door … and stayed. I stayed so that they would not be alone in their last 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 him to get out from under the table and go home.
“I had to touch the door that was full of (blood),” he 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 hard because I’m running,’ and I packed it. … and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and I just melted.”
Briana Tyler, a newly hired employee, had just started her job when the gun went off.
“All of a sudden you just hear pa pa pa pa pa pa pa,” Tyler told CNN, adding that he saw bullets fly inches from his face. It wasn’t a break between them that you could try to resolve.
The shooter had a “blank face” as he looked around the room and shot people, Tyler said.
“There were people falling to the ground,” he said. across the store and he was shooting.”
The shooter had shown troubling behavior in the past, other employees said.
Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with the gunman from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.
He always said that the government was watching him. He didn’t like social media and kept black tape on his camera phone. “Everybody always thought there was something wrong with him,” said Reese.
Joshua Johnson, a former maintenance worker at the store, said the shooter made serious threats if he lost his job.
“He said if he gets fired, he’s going to get revenge and people will remember who he is,” Johnson said.
Hear a Walmart employee who witnessed the shooting describe the manager’s reputation
Neither Johnson nor Reese reported any concerns about Bing to management, they said.
In a statement, Walmart said it is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.
We feel tragedies like these personally and deeply. But this one is very sad as we have learned that the shooter was a friend of Walmart,” Walmart US President and CEO John Furner said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is devastated. Our hearts and prayers are with those involved. .”