CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A Chesapeake, Virginia-based Walmart employee shot dead six people before turning the gun on himself Tuesday night in a mass killing that swept the nation just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Officials responded to the Chesapeake retail store just before 10:15 p.m. for reports of a shooting.
Investigators confirmed Wednesday that the attack killed six people and hospitalized six with unknown injuries. One of these six patients is currently in critical condition. The suspected shooter, who police confirmed was an employee at the store, also died from an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police later identified the shooter as Andre Bing, 31, of Chesapeake, Virginia. Walmart said in a statement that Bing was an overnight team leader and had been with the company since 2010.
Andre Bing, 31, from Chesapeake, Virginia. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Police searched the shooter’s home and said they had no reason to believe there was a threat to the community. Police say the gunman used a handgun in the attack and was carrying several gun magazines.
Police believe at least 50 people were inside the store at the time of the attack and are asking anyone who was there or who may have information about the incident to call the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI.
Investigators identified the victims as Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins and Tyneka Johnson but did not specify their ages. The sixth victim was a 16-year-old man who cannot be identified because he is a minor.
Lorenzo Gamble. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Brian Pendleton. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Kelly Pyle. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Randy Blevins. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Tyneka Johnson. (PHOTO: Chesapeake Police Department)
Employee Briana Tyler, who was at the store during the attack, said the overnight camp 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, “Alright guys, we’ve got a bright night ahead of us,” as Bing turned and opened fire on the staff.
“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 off. It was crazy.”
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 worked with Bing just the night before, said he wasn’t targeting anyone in particular.
“He just shot all over the room. It didn’t matter who he met. He said nothing. He didn’t look at anyone a certain 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.
“Honestly, he just liked voting. I think he was just looking for little things 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 clear motive for the shooting has not yet been identified.
Police say the Walmart store will be closed for several days while detectives investigate the incident.
“We are shocked by this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store,” the statement read on Walmart’s Twitter page. “We are praying for those affected, the community and our staff. We work closely with law enforcement and are focused on supporting our employees.”
According to the company, an employee resource center has been set up for any employees or their family members affected by the tragedy. The center provides “counselling, meals and a place to socialize for employees and their families.” It’s open until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Springhill Suites at 1446 Crossways Boulevard. Starting tomorrow, it will then move to the Delta Hotel by Marriott at 725 Woodlake Drive. The center will remain open there for the next two weeks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
President Joe Biden called the shooting a “horrific and senseless act of violence” in a statement released Wednesday morning.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place in our city late last night,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement posted to the city’s Twitter account on Wednesday. “Chesapeake is a close-knit community and we are all devastated by this news.”
“Our hearts are breaking with the Chesapeake community this morning,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a tweet Wednesday morning. “I am staying in touch with law enforcement officers this morning and have made available all resources as this investigation progresses. Abominable acts of violence have no place in our communities.” Youngkin ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast over the State Capitol and all local, state and federal buildings by sunset Sunday.
US Senator Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “disgusted by reports of another mass shooting, this time at a Chesapeake Walmart.”
State Senator Louise Lucas echoed Warner’s sentiments, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s most recent mass shooting took place at a Walmart in my district.”
The shooting comes less than two weeks after three University of Virginia football players were shot and killed by a fellow student aboard a campus bus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.