A Walmart employee opened fire inside a store in Chesapeake, Va., on Tuesday, law enforcement authorities say, killing six people and wounding six others in the nation’s latest mass shooting.
The suspected gunman — who Walmart identified as employee Andre Bing, an "overnight team lead" at the store since 2010 — died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said at a news conference on Wednesday morning.
“We are truly sad about the tragedy that took place in our community last night,” he said. “We are all praying for the family, friends and co-workers of everyone that’s affected by this senseless violence.”
Police later identified five of the six deceased victims: Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, who were all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of nearby Portsmouth. The dead included a 16-year-old boy whose name was being withheld because of his age.
Walmart said that all six were employees.
Solesky said police responded to a 911 call shortly after 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday evening. Officers arrived on scene within two minutes and entered the store.
Police uncovered a pistol at the scene.
There was no clear motive for the shooting, Solesky said. Police have already executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence, and the investigation is ongoing.
Briana Tyler, an employee at the Walmart, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that she was still “processing” what unfolded at the store.
Tyler said she and other employees were gathered inside the break room before their overnight shift when her manager appeared.
“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” she said. “He just started shooting throughout the entire break room. I watched multiple people drop down to the floor, whether they were ducking for cover or they were hit.”
Tyler said he fired in her direction but missed.
“He looked directly at me,” she said. “But luckily he missed my head by an inch or two.”
Tyler said that the gunman “did not say a word” while he carried out the killings.
The shooting comes just days after five people were killed and 17 others wounded at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday night.
In a statement, President Biden condemned the killings, which come just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of our most cherished holidays that brings us together as Americans and as families, when we hug our loved ones and count our blessings,” Biden said. “But because of yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving. There are now more families who know the worst kind of loss and pain imaginable.
“Jill and I grieve for those families, for the Chesapeake community, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which just suffered a terrible shooting at the University of Virginia this month,” the president continued. “We also mourn for all those across America who have lost loved ones to these tragic shootings that we must come together as a nation to stand against.
“I signed the most significant gun reform in a generation, but that is not nearly enough,” he added. “We must take greater action.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said that the shootings both in his state and Colorado were "stark reminders of senseless violent crime."
"And so much of it is really a moment to reflect on the state of mind of America and Virginia," Youngkin said, "and this mental health crisis we know we are in the middle of."
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our City,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said in a statement posted on the city’s Twitter account Wednesday. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
Walmart tweeted early Wednesday that it was “shocked at this tragic event.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a tweet that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”
Virginia state Sen. L. Louise Lucas tweeted that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district.”
“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” she wrote.
In a subsequent interview with CNN, Lucas expressed her frustration with the inability of lawmakers to prevent such massacres.
“For all the people who are saying that their hearts and prayers go out to these people, I don’t want to hear anymore about that until they get serious about gun violence prevention,” she said.