CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A Walmart manager opened fire on fellow employees in the break room of a Virginia store, killing six people in the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days, police and witnesses said Wednesday.
The gunman, who apparently shot himself, was dead when officers found him, police said. There was no clear motive for the shooting, which also left at least six people wounded, including one critically.
The store was busy just before the attack Tuesday night as people stocked up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, a shopper told a local TV station.
Employee Briana Tyler said the overnight stocking team of about 15 or 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning plan. She said the meeting was about to start, and her team leader said: All right guys, we have a light night ahead of us. when her manager turned around and opened fire on the staff.
“It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me.” Tyler said. “I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.”
Officials said on the City of Chesapeake Twitter account that three of the dead, including the gunman, were found in the break room. One of the slain victims was found near the front of the store. Three others were taken to hospitals where they died of their wounds.
Walmart identified the gunman as Andre Bing and confirmed that he was a team leader and had been with Walmart since 2010.
At first, Tyler didn’t think the shooting was real. It was all happening so fast. I thought it was like a test type of thing. Like, if you do have an active shooter, this is how you respond.”
Tyler, who worked with the manager just the night before, said the assailant didn’t aim at anyone specific.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anyone in any specific type of way.”
Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago, said she never had a negative encounter with the manager, but others told her that he was “the manager to look out for.” She said the manager had a history of writing people up for no reason.
“He just liked to pick, honestly. I think he just looked for little things to go about, because he had the authority. That’s just the type of person that he was. That’s what a lot of people said about him.” she said.
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark G. Solesky said the shooter used a pistol. He could not confirm whether the victims were all employees.
Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under the table, and the shooter looked at her with his gun pointed at her. He told her to go home, and she left.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the … ‘pow-pow-pow,’ you can feel it,” Wilczewski said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud, I could feel it.”
gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted that he was in contact with law enforcement officials in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city, which lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Our hearts break with the community of the Chesapeake this morning. Youngkin wrote. “Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.” He ordered that flags be lowered over all government buildings until sunset Sunday.
The attack was the second time in a little more than a week that Virginia had experienced a major shooting. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a charter bus as they returned to campus from a field trip on Nov. 13. Two other students were wounded.
The assault at the Walmart came three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. Last spring, the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas .
Tuesday night’s shooting also brought back memories of another at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman who targeted Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people.
A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows the number of mass killings this year has been about average, despite recent shootings that have captured public attention.
The US has now had 40 mass killings so far in 2022, with 45 for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, compared not including the killer.