Walmart mass shooting: The motive behind the attack in Chesapeake, Virginia, is unclear


After an ordinary workday turned deadly at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, survivors and investigators are spending the Thanksgiving holiday investigating the motive of an employee who opened fire on co-workers, killing six before turning the gun on himself.

Workers were preparing for a night shift Tuesday when a manager opened fire with a handgun in the break room just after 10 p.m., officials said.

Authorities identified the dead as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tynka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kelly Pyle, 52, and a 16-year-old boy, who is not being named because he is a minor.

Two people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized in critical condition on Thanksgiving, and one injured victim was released Wednesday, a spokesman for Centra Norfolk General Hospital said.

“I know this community, and I know it well. And I know we will come together and reach out to the families of the victims,” ​​Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said Wednesday in a video message.

The shooting, another example of how horrific gun violence upends American life in the most conventional settings, left many grieving the loss of loved ones and survivors traumatized by what they saw. As the long journey of processing these emotions begins, questions about what could have led to the ongoing murders.

Donia Periolo was in the employee break room when the shooter began shooting at co-workers, she said.

“We don’t know what made him do it,” Priolo said. “None of us can understand why this happened.”

(top left) Lorenzo Gamble, Kelly Pyle, Brian Pendleton, Tynka Johnson and Randy Blevins

The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, who worked overnight as a “crew leader”. The 31-year-old has worked at Walmart since 2010. Authorities said he had one semi-automatic handgun and several magazines of ammunition.

Bing shot three of Priolo’s friends “before I got up to run. Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw all the blood on the floor,” she said.

Two dead victims and the shooter were found in the break room, another victim was found in the front of the store, and three more died at the hospital, Chesapeake City officials said. Officials were still trying to determine the exact number of injuries as some people may have taken themselves to hospitals.

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The mayor plans to hold a vigil Monday night in City Park, According to a tweet from the city

“Today we are focusing only on those affected by Tuesday’s tragic event, but the police investigation is ongoing and we expect more information to be available tomorrow,” officials said in a tweet Thursday.

A motive for the shooting remained unclear Thursday, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solsky said.

This week’s violence was at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and comes amid grief that many Americans across the country are enduring this Thanksgiving when loved ones are lost or injured in shootings.

Just 170 miles west of the Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on fellow students on Nov. 13, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from a trip to Washington, D.C.

Over the weekend, a 22-year-old man shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., and wounded 19 others, authorities said. And six months ago Thursday, a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers, a tragedy in which the victims are still searching for answers.

“How do you celebrate when you’re devastated. How do you admit, when you have nothing to give. How do you fake it and smile when you wake up crying,” Brett Cross wrote Thursday about his nephew, Oziah Garcia, who was killed in Evalada.

In all, the U.S. has had more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the nonprofit and CNN define a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the assailant.

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Speaking of the epidemic, of Arizona Former US Representative Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured in a mass shooting in 2011, Tweet on Twitter Thanksgiving eve plea for reforms: “We cannot continue to be the nation of gun violence and mass shootings. We cannot live like this. We must act.”

In Chesapeake, the horror began less than an hour before the store was scheduled to close after a busy day of holiday shopping.

Newly hired Jessie Wilczewski told CNN she was in a regular meeting in the break room when she saw the shooter in the doorway pointing a gun.

At first, she didn’t think what she saw was real, but then she felt her chest pounding and her ears ringing as a barrage of gunfire erupted, she said. At first, it “didn’t register as real,” she said, until the gunshots echoed through her chest.

Wilczewski hid under a table while the gunman walked down a nearby corridor. She could see several of her co-workers on the floor or lying in chairs — all still and some probably dead, she said. She stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.

“I could have run out of 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 her to get out from under the table and go home.

“I had to touch the door that was covered (in blood),” she said. “I just remember holding the 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 ordered it. …And I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a breakdown.”

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Lashana Hicks (left) joins other mourners Wednesday at a memorial for those killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Brianna Tyler, also a newly hired employee, had just started her shift when the shooting broke out.

“All of a sudden you just hear dad dad dad dad,” Tyler told CNN, adding that she saw bullets flying just inches from her face. “It wasn’t a break between them to where you could really try to process it.”

The shooter had a “blank look on his face” as he looked around the room and shot people, Tyler said.

“There were people who just fell on the floor,” she said. “Everybody was screaming, gasping, and yeah, he just walked away and just kept going down the length of the store and just kept shooting.”

The shooter had exhibited disruptive behavior in the past, other employees said.

Shaundreya Rees, who worked with the shooter from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.

“He always said the government was watching him. He didn’t like social media and he had black tape on his camera phone. Everyone always thought there was something wrong with him,” Reese said.

Joshua Johnson, a former maintenance worker at the store, said the shooter made threatening threats if he ever lost his job.

“He said if he ever got fired from his job, he would pay back and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.

Walmart employee Briana Tyler vpx

Overheard a Walmart employee who witnessed the shooting describe the manager’s reputation

Neither Johnson nor Rees reported any concerns about Bing to management, they said.

In a statement, Walmart said it was working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

“We feel such tragedies personally and deeply. But it is especially painful as we learned the gunman was an associate of Walmart,” Walmart US President and CEO John Forner said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken. Our hearts and prayers are with those affected.”


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