A Walmart executive opened fire on co-workers 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 appeared to have 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 injured, including one seriously.
The store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city, was packed just before Tuesday night’s attack as people stocked up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, a shopper told a local TV station.
Staff member Briana Tyler said the night stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go through the morning schedule. She said the meeting was about to start, and a team leader said, “All right guys, we’ve got a bright night ahead of us,” as another team leader, 31-year-old Andre Bing, turned and opened fire on the employee .
“It’s by the grace of God that a bullet missed me,” Tyler said. “I saw the smoke exit the gun and I literally watched bodies fall. It was crazy.”
Officials said on the city’s Twitter account that three of the dead, including Bing, were found in the break room. One of the victims killed was found near the front of the store. Three others were taken to hospitals, where they died from their wounds.
Walmart said in a statement that Bing was an overnight team leader and had been with the company since 2010.
At first, Tyler didn’t believe the shooting was real. “Everything happened so fast. I thought it was some kind of test. For example, if you have an active shooter, react like this.”
Tyler, who only worked with Bing the night before, said he wasn’t specifically targeting anyone.
“He just shot all over the room. It didn’t matter who he met. He did not say anything. He didn’t look at anyone in any particular way.”
Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago, said she’s never had a negative encounter with Bing, but others told her he’s “the manager to watch out for.” She said Bing has texted people for no reason in the past.
“He just liked voting honestly. I think he was just looking for little things to do because he had the authority. That’s just the kind of person he was. A lot of people said that about him,” she said.
A neighbor, Alicia McDuffie, said police “flooded the whole street” in the middle of the night and broke into Bing’s home. Her mother, Vera McDuffie, saw officers approach Bing’s front door with a battering ram.
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark G. Solesky said Bing used a handgun, and police later said he had multiple magazines. Solesky could not confirm whether the victims were employees.
Clerk Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk TV station WAVY that she hid under the table and Bing looked at her and pointed his gun at her. He told her to go home and she left.
The attack marked the second time in just over a week that Virginia had experienced a major shooting. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a charter bus while returning to campus from a field trip on November 11. 13. Two other students were injured.
The Walmart attack came three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five and injuring 17. Last spring, the country was rocked 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 targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people.
A database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University that tracks every mass murder in America since 2006 shows that in 2022 so far, the US has recorded 40 mass murders. This compares to 45 for all of 2019, the highest year in the database that defines mass murder as four or more people killed, not counting the killer.
The database defines mass murder as at least four people killed, not counting the killer.
According to the database, more than a quarter of the mass killings have occurred since October 10. 21 that spans eight states and claims 51 lives. Nine of those eleven incidents were shootings.
In particular, the database does not include recent shootings at the University of Virginia because that attack did not reach the four deaths threshold, not counting the shooter.
President Joe Biden tweeted that he and the first lady were mourning the victims’ families. “We mourn those who will have empty seats at their Thanksgiving table because of these tragic events – we must take greater action.”
An 911 call about the shooting came in just after 10 p.m. Solesky didn’t know how many buyers were inside, whether the gunman was working, or if a security guard was present.
Kimberly Shupe, mother of Walmart employee Jalon Jones, told reporters her 24-year-old son was shot in the back. She said he was in good condition and spoke on Wednesday after initially being put on a ventilator.
Shupe said she learned about the shooting from a friend who went to a family reunification center to find out Jones’ whereabouts.
“If he doesn’t answer the phone, doesn’t answer text messages, and gets shot at his job, you just put two and two together,” Shupe said. “It was a shock at first, but in the end I just always thought he was going to be okay.”
Walmart said in a statement that it is working with law enforcement and is “focused on doing everything we can to support our employees and their families.”
In September 2019, following the El Paso shooting, the company decided to stop selling certain types of ammunition and urged customers to stop openly carrying firearms in its stores.
It stopped selling handgun ammunition and short-barreled rifle ammunition, such as. B. the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military style guns. Walmart also stopped selling handguns in Alaska.
The company stopped selling handguns in all states except Alaska in the mid-1990s. The latest move marked a complete exit from that business, allowing the company to focus solely on hunting rifles and related ammunition.
Many of its stores are in rural areas where hunters depend on Walmart for their gear.
Tyler’s grandfather, Richard Tate, said he dropped his granddaughter off for her 10 p.m. shift, then parked the car and went in to buy some dish soap.
When he first heard the shots, he thought it might be balloons bursting. But soon he saw other customers and employees flee and ran with them.
Tate got to his car and called his granddaughter.
“I could see that she was upset,” he said. “But I could also tell that she was alive.”
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