After a deadly day at Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, survivors and investigators spent the Thanksgiving weekend questioning the motive of the employee who opened fire. opened fire on the workers, shot six people before turning the gun on himself.
Workers were preparing for a night shift Tuesday when the manager opened fire with a gun in the restroom just after 10 p.m., officials said.
Authorities have identified the victims as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52, and a 16-year-old boy, who was not named because he is a child.
Two people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized in critical condition on Thanksgiving Day, and one person was released Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said.
“I know this community, and I know it well. And I know we will come together and lend support to the victims’ families,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said Wednesday in a video message.
The shooting, yet another example of how gun violence destroys American lives in the best places, has left many people grieving the loss of loved ones and loved ones. The survivors were traumatized by what they saw. As the long journey of making these assumptions begins, the question of what can be done to kill people around.
Donya Prioleau was in the office taking a break when the gunman started shooting the workers, she said.
“We don’t know what made him do this,” said Prioleau, “None of us can understand why it happened.”
The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, who served as the night’s “team leader.” The 31-year-old has worked for Walmart since 2010, the company said. Authorities said he had a semi-automatic handgun and several bullet magazines.
Bing killed three of Prioleau’s friends “before I ran away. Half of us did not believe it was true until some of us saw the blood on the floor,” he said.
Two people were killed and the shooter was found in the living room, another victim was found in front of the store, and three other people died in the hospital, Chesapeake officials led in the city said. Officials are still trying to determine the number of people injured because some people were able to take themselves to the hospital.
The mayor plans to fast Monday evening at City Park, according to a tweet from the city.
“Today we are only focusing on the injured from Tuesday’s tragic incident, but the police investigation continues and we hope to have more information available tomorrow,” officials said in a Thursday tweet.
A motive for the shooting remained unclear Thursday, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said.
This week’s violence is at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and comes against a background of sadness many Americans around of the country is doing this Thanksgiving as loved ones have been lost or injured in the shooting.
Just 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on students on November 13, killing three of them on a bus. back to school from a field trip to Washington, DC.
Over the weekend, a 22-year-old shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, police said. And six months ago Thursday, a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers, a situation in which the victims are still seeking answers.
“How do you celebrate when you are in danger. How can you be thankful, when you have nothing else. How do you fake it and smile when you wake up crying,” Brett Cross wrote Thursday of his niece, Uziyah Garcia, who was killed in Uvalde.
Overall, the United States has suffered more than 600 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the nonprofit and CNN define mass shootings as those in which four or more people are killed, not including the shooter.
Regarding infectious diseases, Arizona’s former US Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured in a mass shooting in 2011, tweeted The Thanksgiving Eve plea for reform: “We can’t be a country of gun violence and mass shootings. We can’t live like this. We have to.”
In Chesapeake, the scare began less than an hour before the store was scheduled to close after a busy holiday weekend.
Jessie Wilczewski, who was recently hired, told CNN that she was in a regular meeting in the break room when she saw a gunman in the doorway pointing a gun.
At first, he didn’t think what he saw was real, but then he heard his chest pounding and his ears ringing as a torrent of gunfire erupted, he said. At first, it “didn’t really register,” he said, until the sound of a shot reverberated through his chest.
Wilczewski hid under a table as the gunman walked down the street nearby. He could see some of his workers on the floor or lying on the couch – all still and some may be dead, he said. He stayed because he didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run out the door… and I stayed. I live so they will not be alone in their last moments,” Wilczewski said in a press release for the families of the two victims.
When the shooter returned to the restroom, Wilczewski said, he told her to get out from under the table and go home.
“I had to touch the door that was covered (in blood),” he said. “I just remember holding my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me from behind – well, he must have tried to make me run,’ and I booked him. … and I didn’t stop to until I got to my car and then I broke down.”
Briana Tyler, also a new employee, had just started her shift when the bomb exploded.
“All of a sudden you just heard gasp gasp gasp gasp,” Tyler told CNN, adding that he saw the bullet fly just inches from his face. “It’s not a separation between them to the point where you can really try to do it.”
The shooter had a “blank look on his face” as he looked around the room and killed people, Tyler said.
“There are still people who just fall to the floor,” he said. “Everyone was screaming, gasping, and yes, he just walked after that and just continued throughout the store and just kept shooting.”
The shooter had shown some disturbing behavior in the past, another official said.
Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with the shooter from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.
“He always said that the government took care of him. He doesn’t like social media and he keeps black tape on his camera phone. Everyone always thought there was something wrong with him,” Reese said.
Joshua Johnson, a former custodian at the store, said the assailant threatened to lose his job.
“He said that if he ever got fired from his job, he would take revenge and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.
Hear the Walmart employee who witnessed the shooting describe the president’s reputation
Neither Johnson nor Reese expressed concern about Bing to management, they said.
In a statement, Walmart said it was working with local police in the investigation.
“We feel events like this very personal and deep. But this is especially painful because we learned that the shooter was a Walmart affiliate,” president and CEO of Walmart US John Furner said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken. We God’s thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”