The disturbing moments of a Walmart shooting survivor 5:19
(WABNEWS) — As authorities investigate this week’s mass shooting inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, at least two employees remained hospitalized in critical condition after a manager killed six co-workers before taking his own life.
The shooting Tuesday night, two days before Thanksgiving, began minutes after 10 p.m. inside the employee break room, where some workers were preparing to start their night shift.RELATED
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In addition to the six employees who did not survive, others continue to receive medical treatment. Two victims at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital were in critical condition on Thanksgiving Day, hospital spokesman Mike Kafka told WABNEWS, and another victim was released Wednesday.
“This Thanksgiving, we are so thankful for our community and are thinking of every victim of the Walmart shooting and their family members,” Chesapeake city officials said online.
“Today we are only focused on those injured by the tragic event on Tuesday, but the police investigation continues,” authorities said, adding that additional information will be provided on Friday.
The people killed are Randy Blevins, 70; Lawrence Gamble, 43; Tyneka Johnson, 22; Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52, and a minor under the age of 16, whose name is withheld because he is a minor, according to authorities.
As police work to determine the motive for one of at least three mass shootings in Virginia this month, Chesapeake officials have announced a vigil for the victims scheduled for Monday night in City Park.
“Chesapeake is a tight-knit community and we are all shocked,” Mayor Rick West said in a message posted online earlier this week. “Together we will support each other during this time.”
The tragedy, which occurred as many members of the community prepared to spend the holidays with family and friends, has unleashed an outburst of grief and trauma over the loss of loved ones in yet another US mass shooting.
Another Virginia community has also been enduring the pain of lives lost to gun violence. About 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was arrested and charged after opening fire on his classmates on November 13, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from an excursion to Washington.
Grief also permeated a Colorado community last weekend, when a 22-year-old suspect shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, wounding 19 others, authorities said.
These shootings, among many others, have put the US on the ominous path of making 2022 the year with the second most recorded mass shootings, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that began tracking cases. in 2014
Survivors describe the shooting
The shooting in Chesapeake this week broke out suddenly, and witnesses said they were shocked and in disbelief when they saw the gunman pointing a firearm at them.
Walmart employee Kevin Harper said the gunman entered the break room and immediately began shooting.
“He went in there and started spraying,” Harper said in a video on social media.
The attacker has been identified as Andre Bing, who was working as a “team leader” overnight. The 31-year-old man had been working for Walmart since 2010, the company said. Authorities have said he had a semiautomatic pistol and several magazines of ammunition.
Two dead victims and the shooter were found in the break room, another victim was found in the front of the store and three others died at the hospital, Chesapeake city officials said.
Jessie Wilczewski, who was recently hired, told WABNEWS she was in a regularly scheduled meeting when the shooting began.
At first, “it didn’t register as real,” he said, until the sound of gunshots echoed in his chest.
Wilczewski hid under a table as the attacker walked down a nearby hallway. He could see some of his coworkers on the floor or lying on chairs, all motionless and some probably dead, he said. He stayed because he didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run out that door … and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their last moments,” Wilczewski said in a message to the families of two victims.
When the shooter returned to the break room, Wilczewski said, he told him to get out from under the table and go home.
“I had to knock on the door that was covered (in blood),” he said. “I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back, well, he’s going to have to try really hard because I’m running,’ and I did… and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a collapse”.
Briana Tyler, also a newly hired employee, said she saw bullets flying just inches from her face.
“Suddenly you hear pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa,” Tyler said. “There were people throwing themselves on the ground,” she said. “Everybody was screaming, gasping, and yeah, he just walked away after that and continued all over the store and kept shooting.”
A holiday marked by emptiness for the families of victims of armed violence
Beyond the Chesapeake shooting this week, gun violence has turned many ordinary places into crime scenes across the country, from schools and grocery stores to hospitals and shopping malls. Brett Cross, whose nephew Uziyah Garcia was killed in a Texas school massacre earlier this year, described a deep sense of loss without the 10-year-old boy this holiday season.
A gunman had opened fire inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May, killing 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers before authorities shot him dead.
“Six months since our world shattered, and I’m supposed to ‘celebrate the holidays,'” Cross wrote in a social media post on Thanksgiving. “How do you celebrate when you’re devastated? How do you give thanks when you no longer have anything to give? How do you fake it and smile when you wake up crying?”
In 2018, a former student murdered 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, a 14-year-old girl who was killed in that shooting, said there is more work to be done in the fight against gun violence.
“Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, many families will do so with an empty seat at the table due to gun violence,” Guttenberg wrote in a social media post on Thanksgiving.
Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in 2012.
“My life had been plunged into sadness and confusion. I felt like I was at the bottom of a gigantic hole from which I could never get out. I didn’t know how to help myself, no matter who I loved,” Hockley wrote in line in a Thanksgiving message.
“But in the weeks and months that followed, and with the support of those around me, I found a renewed sense of purpose to prevent other children and families from suffering the same fate.”
WABNEWS’s Josh Campbell, Michelle Watson and Andi Babineau contributed to this report.