Five of the six victims of the Tuesday night shooting at a Walmart in Virginia have been identified by authorities. The store manager opened fire and then committed suicide. The names of five of the deceased have been released by the City of Chesapeake: Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins, and Tyneka Johnson.
The sixth deceased victim was a 16-year-old boy who authorities are not naming because he was a minor, the city said. All six victims were employed by Walmart, a company spokesperson told CNN.
Those in need can rest assured that “the City of Chesapeake has always been known as the ‘City That Cares,’ and now, more than ever, we know our City will show up and care for those who need it most,’ the release said. “Please join us in praying for the family and friends of these community members who we have lost.”
According to a statement released by the city earlier on Wednesday, 31-year-old Andre Bing was the shooter, and he was “armed with one handgun and had multiple magazines on his person.” According to a statement released by Walmart, Bing had been working there as a “night team lead” since 2010.
Authorities were digging into the shooter’s background Wednesday for information on what could have motivated the attack, police said. “Law enforcement will do what they can and I promise you, more information will follow,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said in a video message posted Wednesday evening.
The violence marks yet another mass shooting in a place traditionally seen as safe – from schools to hospitals to stores. Just 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on fellow students this month, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, DC.
Authorities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, say a 22-year-old opened fire on an LGBTQ nightclub last weekend, killing five people and injuring 19. The Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been over 600 mass shootings in the United States this year. The organisation and CNN agree that a shooting is considered mass if four or more people are killed (not counting the shooter).
The Supervisor Walked In And “Started Spraying
The police estimate that at least 50 people were present in the Walmart when the fighting broke out. Some of them have begun publicly sharing their accounts of how a calm night turned into a horrifying tragedy.
Around 10:12 p.m. on Tuesday, less than an hour before the Walmart Supercenter was scheduled to close, the deadly rampage began. According to police, the first officer arrived at the scene in under two minutes, and officers entered the store at around 10:16 p.m.
Employee Kevin Harper said a colleague entered the breakroom and started shooting. In a Facebook Live video, Harper said, “I just left out the breakroom… (the gunman) starts cappin’ people up in there.” The video has been removed from his Facebook page but is still being widely distributed online.
“He came in there and started spraying,” Harper said. As of Wednesday, city officials said that at least six more people had been taken to local hospitals for treatment, with one of them remaining in critical condition. The authorities were also trying to find out if there were any injuries that hadn’t been reported to them.
Kimberly Shupe, the mother of 24-year-old Jalon Jones, told a CNN affiliate that her son had been shot multiple times on Tuesday. On Wednesday, while her son was in stable condition in the intensive care unit, Shupe spoke to reporters outside the hospital.
Three bodies, including the shooter, were found in the store’s break room, the city of Chesapeake said in a tweet. One dead body was discovered near the store’s entrance. Three more victims who were taken to nearby hospitals later died from their wounds.
Jeromy Basham, a customer who went to the Walmart on Tuesday night to buy tablecloths, said he heard the gunshots and saw people fleeing the building seconds later. “It sounded loud as s**t but it was so many of the same kind of sound I don’t know what the hell else it could have been,” he said in a video uploaded to his Facebook page.
After being told “Don’t come out” by employees, Basham hid for a while before making his way to safety outside. After exiting the building, he saw police officers enter the business, armed with heavy body armour and long rifles, as bystanders and employees waited in the parking lot. In additional videos from Basham, dozens of first responders are seen on the scene.
‘This One is Especially Painful’
Joetta Jeffery said her mother, Betsy Umphlett, sent her texts from inside the store saying bullets were flying. Jeffrey sobbed and shook as he spoke to CNN. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
According to Jeffery, her mom is fine physically, but she’s been traumatized by the incident. Families looking for information about loved ones who were at the store were directed to the Chesapeake Conference Center, which served as a reunification center.
Only immediate family or people who have been designated as emergency contacts are permitted to enter the centre, as per requests from city officials. Walmart US President and CEO John Furner described the Chesapeake mass shooting as “extraordinarily tragic” because the shooter was a current or former Walmart employee.
This kind of tragedy hits us where it hurts the most. The fact that the shooter was an employee at Walmart makes this one especially tragic, Furner said in a statement. Everyone at Walmart is devastated by this news.
Those affected have our deepest sympathies, and we applaud the efforts of the emergency services. The FBI’s Norfolk division said the agency is assisting the Chesapeake Police Department in the investigation. Authorities ask anyone with information about the shooting to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.