The latest victim in this week’s mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, is a 16-year-old clerk who reportedly used his first paycheck to buy his mother a gift before he was killed two days before Thanksgiving.
Fernando Chavez-Barron was shot dead along with five other colleagues Tuesday night when a manager opened fire in a staff break room during a meeting before killing himself, according to a social media post by the City of Chesapeake who publicly identified the teenager on Friday.
As authorities work to learn more about the shooter, including publicly releasing a note found on his phone after the shooting, friends are mourning the 16-year-old who was killed.
Those who knew Fernando told CNN affiliate WTKR that he just started working at Walmart and used his first paycheck to buy a present for his mother.
A friend of Fernando’s, Joshua Trejo-Alvarado, said he was still in disbelief that he left.
“I’m at a loss for words and speechless that it was him,” Trejo-Alvarado told WTKR. “I had hoped until today that it was all a dream. I wish he was still here with me. I prayed for him last night with my whole family. We also got flowers and candles for him at home.”
Trejo-Alvarado texted and called Fernando but received no response, he said. He later called his friend’s brother, who told him Fernando had not survived, WTKR reported.
“He was always open with everyone he met. He was nice,” said Trejo-Alvarado.
Five others at the Walmart were killed, including Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, and Kellie Pyle, 52.
On Thanksgiving Day, the community gathered at a growing makeshift memorial outside the store to pay respects to the dead lost in yet another mass shooting that turned a staple of everyday life into a gruesome crime scene. Two people are still in the hospital, one of them in critical condition, the city said on Thursday.
Chesapeake City officials are planning a vigil in City Park Monday at 6 p.m. to honor the victims.
Also on Monday, city council leaders will hold a special meeting to confirm an emergency declaration that will “release funds to support recovery” following the shooting, according to the city’s Twitter account on Friday. The post did not specify how the funds would be used.
Since the shooting, authorities have been trying to determine a motive for the sudden shooting at a workplace two days before Thanksgiving. Officials on Friday released details of writings retrieved from the gunman’s phone after the tragedy.
The writing, titled “Death Note,” found on the shooter’s phone contained complaints against people in his life, including some colleagues, according to the city’s Twitter account Friday.
The note mentions God, the Holy Spirit, and how the author felt mocked by his “employees” — a job title Walmart uses for some of its employees.
“The staff gave me evil grins, mocked me and celebrated my fall on the last day. Therefore, they suffer the same fate as me,” the note reads.
“I wish I could have saved everyone from myself,” the note continued. “My God, forgive me for what I will do.”
The city released the note in a series of tweets, redacting the names of those named. None of the victims of the shooting were among the redacted names, police said.
When asked if the shooter had complained about his colleagues, a statement from Walmart said: “There is nothing that can justify killing innocent people. Our focus remains on the grieving families who are supporting our employees during this difficult time.”
The gun used in the killings is a 9mm handgun that the shooter legally purchased on the day of the shooting, the city said.
A search of the shooter’s home found a box of ammunition and “various items related to the 9mm pistol (box, receipt, other documentation),” the city said in a tweet.
The shooter, identified as 31-year-old Andre Bing, has been described by colleagues as having previously displayed strange and threatening behavior.
Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with Bing from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.
“He always said the government was watching him. He disliked social media and kept black tape on his phone camera. Everyone always thought there was something wrong with them,” Reese said.
Another former colleague, Joshua Johnson, worked at Walmart until 2019 and said Bing made threats.
“He said if he was ever fired from his job he would get revenge and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.
Reese and Johnson said they did not report any concerns about Bing’s behavior to management.
Walmart employees had just arrived for their Tuesday night shift when they saw a manager standing in the doorway, pointing a gun at them in the break room. But the disturbing image hadn’t materialized for some employees, including Briana Tyler, who had just been hired at the store.
“It hadn’t really made itself felt that it was real yet. Because I thought it was some kind of simulation, so that’s what we do when we have an active shooter,” Tyler told CNN. “And the reason I believe that was because I recognized his face.”
But then reality set in when she saw her colleagues being shot.
“He just had a blank look on his face and he was literally just looking around the room and just shooting and there were people just falling to the ground,” Tyler said. “Everyone screamed and gasped. After that he just walked away and just walked around the store and just kept shooting.”
Hear what the Walmart shooter told this survivor
When the shooter exited the break room, clerk Jessie Wilczewski hid under a table, she told CNN. She described seeing some of her colleagues lying on the floor or in chairs – some likely dead.
When the shooter returned to the break room, he told her to come out from under the table, Wilczewski said.
“He said, ‘Jessie, go home,'” said Wilczewski, who is the mother of a 15-month-old child.
As she got up and was about to leave, she tried not to look at her colleagues – but the sound of blood hitting the floor haunted her, she said.
“The sound of the droplets, da-da-da-da, it keeps repeating and repeating and repeating,” she told CNN earlier this week. “How much blood came from the different stools – it made a rhythm. And it was one of the most troubling things – I will never, I think, let go of that.”
Wilczewski said the trauma she witnessed stuck with her after her escape.
“Never in my life would I ever wish that on anyone,” Wilczewski said. “And it’s terrible because it doesn’t stop. Playback does not stop when you leave the scene. It doesn’t stop hurting. It doesn’t stop and it sucks because you really want it. You just want the little bit of – that you had before all of this.”