An employee had a gun to her forehead, others ran for their lives: Witnesses describe the Chesapeake Walmart shooting



CNN

Although Jessie Wilczewski had only been working at Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia for a few days, her Tuesday night shift started like any other, with the usual team meeting in the break room.

But moments after that meeting began, Wilczewski found herself face-to-face with her team leader, who was holding a gun to her forehead after shooting her colleagues.

She managed to escape and return home to her 15-month-old child, but she told CNN that the night — and the sound of blood hitting the floor — keeps replaying in her head.

Six of her co-workers, including a teenager, were killed in the massacre after the gunman, identified by Chesapeake city officials as 31-year-old Andre Bing, opened fire indiscriminately into a room where employees had gathered for a meeting.

According to Walmart’s statement, Bing was the store’s night shift “team leader” and had been with the company since 2010. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It’s horrible because it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop playing when you leave the scene, it doesn’t stop hurting so much, it doesn’t stop,” Wilczewski told CNN’s Erica Hill Wednesday night after the terrifying experience.

Five of the dead victims were identified by city officials as Lorenzo Gamble; Brian Pendleton; Kelly Pyle; Randall Blevins; and Tyneka Johnson. The sixth person killed was a 16-year-old boy, whose name authorities have not released because he was a minor, the city said. They were all Walmart employees, a company spokesperson told CNN.

Wilczewski told CNN she spotted the shooter shortly after 10 p.m. She was listening to another team leader speak before she turned her head toward the door and saw Bing standing with a gun pointed at the crowd. real.

But then she began to feel her chest vibrate and her ears ring as a barrage of gunshots rang out, she said. Wilczewski jumped under the table as the assailant made his way down a nearby hallway.

“I didn’t want to be loud, I didn’t want him to hear me and get mad and make me come back,” Wilczewski told CNN.

Around him, some colleagues were lying on the floor, while others were lying on chairs – all motionless. She said she knew many were likely not alive, but Wilczewski stayed because he didn’t want to leave them alone.

“The sound of drops (hitting the floor),” she said, “It repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats.”

When he returned, Wilczewski said the attacker told her to get off the table. She complied, first putting her bag out to indicate she didn’t have a weapon and raising her hands.

“I slipped out under the table and I was shaking,” she said. “He just had the gun up to my forehead.”

And then he told her to go home, drawing his gun and aiming it at the ceiling.

“I got up very slowly and tried not to look at everybody that was on the ground … and I had to touch the door that was covered in (blood) and I walked out the double doors where you can see the aisles of Walmart and … I just remember , that I grabbed my bag and thought, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back, he’s going to have to try really hard because I’m running,’ and I booked it,” she said. “I booked it and didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a meltdown.”

Briana Tyler was also new to the store. She had entered work shortly after 10:00 PM when she saw Bing standing in the doorway.

“Everybody was just waiting to figure out where they were going to spend the night, and then all of a sudden you just hear ‘pa pa pa pa pa pa pa,'” Tyler told CNN.

After he started shooting, Bing didn’t speak or point the gun at anyone in particular, Tyler recalled.

“He had a blank look on his face and he literally just looked around the room and just shot and people just fell to the floor,” Tyler said.

It was a horrifying sight that has stuck in her mind ever since.

“The two visions I can’t get out of my head are the vision of him firing the gun and the smoke coming out,” Tyler said. “I’m watching the smoke leave the barrel of the gun and my girlfriend is bleeding from her neck.”

A forensics unit responds to the scene at Walmart early Wednesday.

The gunman continued to shoot throughout the store, Tyler said, as everyone around them screamed. She also couldn’t believe what was happening until she saw her friends injured on the ground and ran towards it.

“When I ran, it was just run, don’t trip, don’t fall, just run,” she said. “And I just knew I had to go home to my son, and as soon as I got out, I just called my mom.”

Donnie Prioleau, who told CNN she had heard Bing say “a lot of disturbing things” earlier, was also in the break room when the gunman entered.

Binga walked in and shot three of his friends “before I started running. Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw all the blood on the floor,” she said.

Two slain victims and the shooter were found in a break room, and another was found in the front of the store, the city of Chesapeake said. Three other people died at the hospital, officials said, and while the city is trying to determine the exact number of injuries — some victims may have taken themselves to hospitals — at least four people remained hospitalized early Wednesday, two of them in critical condition. An official at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said.

Chesapeake Police Public Information Officer Leo Kosinski

Find out from Chesapeake police about what we know about the Walmart shooting

Employee Kevin Harper narrowly missed meeting the attacker.

“I just left the break room,” Harper says in a video posted to Facebook.

“(The armed man) just came in there and started burying people. Started shooting bro. … As soon as I left the break room, he walked in there, man. By the grace of God, yo,” says Harper, admitting that his happiness isn’t hurt or worse.

Harper thought it was nothing at first, but soon realized something was wrong and ran away, he says in the video, which appears to have been filmed in the store’s parking lot.

“Then I started hearing him approaching so… I booked it. I saw everyone running. I also booked it,” he said. “I got up from there.”

Flowers and balloons were placed near the scene of the shooting on Wednesday.

As he records, a woman can be heard in the background saying that she was playing dead during the attack. Others also participate in the discussion, sharing information about those killed.

“He killed the girl there and that’s it,” says Harper. “He came in there and just started spraying and s**t. … I feel sorry for the victims.

The city said the shooter was armed with a handgun and several magazines. Police were working Wednesday to learn more about the suspect’s background and determine a possible motive.

Wilczewska said she thinks about how else she could have helped, how she could have changed the outcome of Tuesday night, and wonders why the shooter let her go.

“It bothers me very, very badly. I don’t know why he did what he did,” she told CNN. “Because I could have sworn I was a walker.”

She also shared a message with the families of the two victims, though she did not name them.

“I want to let you know that I could have run out the door with everyone else who ran through it, and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in those last moments,” she said. “I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone. ”

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