After a typical workday turned deadly at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, survivors and investigators are questioning the purpose of an employee who opened fire on coworkers, killing six before turning the pistol on himself.
At 10 p.m., a manager opened fire with a handgun in the break room, where employees were ready for a midnight shift, according to officials.
Authorities have identified the victims as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52, and an unnamed 16-year-old child.
According to Dr. Michael Hooper, chief medical officer at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, four victims of the gunshot remained hospitalized on the eve of Thanksgiving, and at least two of them were in severe condition.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West stated in a video statement on Wednesday, “I know this community and I know it well, and I know that we will come together and lend a helping hand to the victims’ families,”
The shooting, yet another illustration of how awful gun violence disrupts even the most routine aspects of American life, has left many mourning the loss of loved ones and traumatized by what they witnessed. As the lengthy process of processing these emotions begins, questions about what may have led to the murders persist.
According to Donya Prioleau, she was in the staff break room when the shooter opened fire on employees.
“We don’t know what made him do this,” stated Prioleau. None of us can comprehend why this occurred.
The shooter was identified as Andre Bing, who worked as a “team lead.” overnight. The 31-year-old had worked for Walmart since 2010, according to the business.
Bing killed three of Prioleau’s associates “before I began running. Until some of us saw the blood on the floor, fifty percent of us didn’t believe it “She stated,
Two killed victims and the gunman were discovered in the store’s break room, while another victim was discovered at the store’s entrance, according to Chesapeake city officials. Three victims died at the hospital. As some individuals may have self-transported to hospitals, officials are attempting to determine the precise number of injuries.
Wednesday, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said a motive for the shooting remained unknown.
Tuesday’s atrocity was at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and occurred in the context of the pain many Americans are experiencing this Thanksgiving due to the loss of loved ones or injuries sustained in shootings.
A 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on fellow students on a bus returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, DC on November 13. Three students were killed.
Five people were shot and murdered over the weekend at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 19 others were injured, according to authorities.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, more than 600 mass shootings have occurred in the United States thus far in 2018. Both the nonprofit and CNN define mass shootings as incidents in which four or more persons, excluding the perpetrator, are shot.
‘I stayed just so they wouldn’t be alone’
After a busy day of holiday shopping in Chesapeake, the tragedy began less than an hour before the business was scheduled to close.
Jessie Wilczewski, a newly-hired employee, told CNN that she was at a meeting in the break room when she noticed the shooter in the doorway waving a gun.
She added that at first she didn’t believe what she was witnessing, but then she felt her chest thumping and her ears ringing as a barrage of gunshots erupted. She stated that it “didn’t register as real,” until the sound of the gunshots resonated in her chest.
Wilczewski crouched beneath a table while the gunman moved along an adjacent hallway. She could see some of her employees lying on the floor or in chairs, all motionless and presumably dead. She remained because she did not wish to abandon them.
“I could have fled through that door, but I stayed. I remained so that they would not be alone during their final moments “Wilczewski stated in a statement to two victims’ families.
Wilczewski stated that when the shooter returned to the break room, he instructed her to come out from beneath the table and go home.
“I had to touch the door which was covered (in blood),” she claimed. “I just remember gripping my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back — well, he’s going to have to try really hard cause I’m running,’ and I booked it. … and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a meltdown.”
Also a freshly hired employee, Briana Tyler had barely begun her shift when the gunshots broke out.
Tyler told CNN that she suddenly heard pa pa pa pa pa pa pa and saw gunshots flying inches from her face. There was no interval between them that would have allowed for processing.
Tyler stated that the shooter had a “blank stare on his face” as he looked around the room and fired at people.
“There were people just dropping to the floor,” she added. “Everybody was screaming, gasping, and yeah, he just walked away after that and just continued throughout the store and just kept shooting.”
What we are aware of the suspect
The shooter exhibited worrisome conduct in the past, according to several colleagues.
The shooter was a loner, according to Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with him from 2015 to 2018.
“He constantly claimed that the government was watching him. He covered the camera on his phone with black tape because he disliked social media. Everyone always believed there was something wrong with him “Reese remarked.
Former store maintenance employee Joshua Johnson stated that the shooter had made grave threats if he ever lost his job.
“He said if he ever got fired from his job, he would retaliate and people would remember who he was,” Johnson recalled.
They stated that neither Johnson nor Reese raised any concerns about Bing to management.
Walmart stated in a statement that it was assisting local law enforcement with the inquiry.
“Such events affect us personally and profoundly. However, the fact that the shooter was a Walmart employee makes this one more sad “John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart US, issued a statement. “Everyone at Walmart is heartbroken. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected parties.”
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