CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov 23 (Reuters) – A Walmart manager armed with a handgun and several magazines of ammunition opened fire on co-workers at a Virginia store, killing six people, before turning the gun on himself, bystanders and police in a break room. said on Wednesday.
The nation’s latest mass shooting rocked the city of Chesapeake, about 200 miles (320 km) south of Washington, on Tuesday night, following last weekend’s massacre in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where a gunman killed five LBGTQ people at a nightclub.
The Virginia gunman, identified as Andre Bing, 31, of Chesapeake, said nothing when he opened fire on workers gathered before their night shift, according to two workers who were in the break room where the rampage ended and Bing shot himself.
“I just watched 3 of my co-workers/friends get killed in front of my eyes,” Donnie Prioleau wrote in her Facebook post. “Andre killed them in cold blood… I can’t help but see what happened in that break room.”
Police said at least three people were injured in the attack, which occurred while about 50 people were inside the store at the cavernous Walmart Supercenter off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people.
The dead include a 16-year-old boy, who was not identified by police, and Randy Blevin, 70, who planned to retire within the year, a cousin wrote on Facebook.
The others were Kelly Pyle, 52, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, and Randy Blevin, 70, all of Chesapeake, and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of neighboring Portsmouth.
Authorities say they are investigating what might have motivated Bing, an hourly employee who supervised the night shift and had worked at the company since 2010. The city said its SWAT team executed a search warrant at his home.
“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” another Walmart employee, Brianna Tyler, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Several of Bing’s colleagues told CNN that he has exhibited strange and sometimes threatening behavior in the past. He also made paranoid comments about being monitored by the government, according to CNN interviews.
Jessie Wilczewski told WAVY that she hid under a table and the shooter pointed a gun at her and told her to go home.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the pow-pow-pow. You can feel it,” said a store employee. “I didn’t hear it at first because I thought it was so loud. I could feel it.”
The latest massacre prompted renewed condemnation from public officials and calls from activists for stricter gun control.
President Joe Biden called the shooting “yet another horrific and senseless act of violence,” following a shooting this month that killed three students at the University of Virginia.
“There are now even more tables across the country that will be empty this Thanksgiving,” Biden said in a statement.
According to GunViolenceArchive.org, the United States averages two mass shootings per day, defined as an incident that kills or injures four or more people.
Jessica Burgess, a surgeon who treated the victims at a Norfolk hospital, said she contacted a colleague in Colorado Springs just two days earlier to offer support.
“So it’s very upsetting that I’m now in the same situation with colleagues from all over the country who are testing me and my team,” Burgess said. “Sometimes there’s only so much we can do when the injuries are already done.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, already facing increased calls to crack down on gun violence after the University of Virginia killings, ordered flags at half-staff at local, state and federal buildings.
Walmart, which has thousands of stores nationwide, has been hit by gun violence before.
In August 2019, 23 people were killed outside a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, near the US-Mexico border. It was also the deadliest modern-day attack on the Hispanic community in the United States.
Walmart implemented new restrictions on the sale of guns and ammunition after this 2019 shooting, as it did after other shootings at its stores.
“The disturbing news of last night’s shooting at our Chesapeake, VA store by one of our partners has hit our Walmart family hard,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey, Siddhartha Kavale, Bharat Govind Gautam, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Shubham Kalia; Additional Posts by Juby Babu; Editing by Gareth Jones, Mark Porter, Bill Berkrot and Deepa Babington
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