ADDS Walmart Response, Lawmakers Quotes, Background
A gunman shot dead several people at a Walmart store in Virginia late Tuesday, police said, adding that the alleged lone gunman was also dead.
The outbreak of gun violence in the city of Chesapeake comes just before Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and follows another mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado late Saturday that killed five people.
“We were able to find several fatalities and several injuries,” Chesapeake Police Department Officer Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene, saying that rapid response and tactical teams entered the store “immediately” after arriving at the scene.
“We believe it is a lone gunman and that lone gunman is deceased at this point,” he said, without clarifying how the alleged gunman died.
Emergency calls were first made just after 22:00 (Wednesday 03:00 GMT) on Tuesday while the store was still open.
News footage showed a large police presence at the scene, with Kosinski saying several officers and investigators carefully swept the store and secured the area.
The exact death toll remained unclear. Kosinski told reporters police believe no more than 10 people were killed.
Walmart, the largest retailer in the United States, issued a statement early Wednesday saying, “We are shocked by this tragic event.”
The company added that it is “praying for those affected, the community and our employees. We work closely with law enforcement and are focused on supporting our employees.”
Virginia Senator Louise Lucas, who represents the Chesapeake region, which is 150 miles southeast of the US capital Washington, said she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s most recent mass shooting took place… in my district.”
“I will not rest until we find solutions to end this epidemic of gun violence in our country that has claimed so many lives,” she said on Twitter.
The shooting happened at a major retailer less than 48 hours before Americans celebrate Thanksgiving nationwide.
“Tragically, our community suffers another incident of senseless gun violence as families gather for Thanksgiving,” tweeted US Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia.
The incident came three nights after a gunman opened fire at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub in western Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, killing five people and injuring at least 18 in what is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Authorities said the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, used a long gun at the club where party-goers were celebrating Transgender Day, a tribute to transgender people who have been victims of violent attacks.
Gun violence is happening at an alarming rate in the United States, where more than 600 mass shootings have taken place so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.