Authorities have identified five of the six people who were killed in a Virginia Walmart after the store’s manager began firing Tuesday night before killing himself.
Five of the deceased victims were identified as Lorenzo Gamble; Brian Pendleton; Kellie Pyle; Randall Blevins; and Tyneka Johnson, according to a Wednesday news release from the City of Chesapeake.
The sixth deceased victim was a 16-year-old boy who authorities are not naming because he was a minor, the city said.
“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.”
Earlier Wednesday, the city identified the shooter as 31-year-old Andre Bing, saying he was “armed with one handgun and had multiple magazines on his person.”
Bing was an “overnight team lead” and had been employed with Walmart since 2010, the company said in a statement.
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.
Last weekend, a 22-year-old shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 19 others were injured, authorities said.
The US has suffered more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the non-profit and CNN define mass shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, not including the assailant.
Manager came in and ‘just started spraying’
At least 50 people were inside the Walmart when the violence erupted, police said. Some of them have begun publicly sharing their accounts of how a calm night turned into a horrifying tragedy.
The deadly rampage started around 10:12 p.m. Tuesday, less than an hour before the Walmart Supercenter was set to close.
The first officer arrived on scene within two minutes and officers entered the store roughly two minutes after that, at about 10:16 p.m., police said.
Employee Kevin Harper said a colleague entered the breakroom and started shooting.
“I just left out the breakroom … (the gunman) starts cappin’ people up in there,” Harper said in a Facebook Live video. The video is no longer on his Facebook page, but it has been re-shared on social media.
“He came in there and just started spraying,” Harper said.
At least six injured people were transported to local hospitals for treatment, police said.
Four people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized Wednesday morning, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said. At least two were in critical condition, said Dr. Michael Hooper, vice president and chief medical officer at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Jalon Jones, 24, was shot several times by the gunman Tuesday, his mother, Kimberly Shupe, told CNN affiliate WTKR. Shupe addressed reporters Wednesday outside the hospital where her son was in the intensive care unit in stable condition.
“Three individuals, including the shooter, were located deceased in the break room of the store,” the city of Chesapeake tweeted. “One victim was located deceased toward the front of the store. Three other victims were transported to local hospitals for further treatment, but succumbed to their injuries.”
Customer Jeromy Basham, who was at the Walmart Tuesday night to buy tablecloths, said he heard the sound of the gunshots and a few seconds later, people began rushing out of the store.
“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.
For a while, Basham took cover after employees warned him, “Don’t come out,” before he eventually made it outside safely.
Once outside, he saw responding officers enter the store with heavy body armor and long rifles while other witnesses and employees stood 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.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery told CNN. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
Jeffery said her mother is not injured, but traumatized by the tragedy.
A reunification center was set up at the Chesapeake Conference Center for families seeking details about loved ones who were at the store. City officials have asked that only relatives or emergency contacts of those inside visit the center.
John Furner, Walmart US’ president and CEO, said the mass shooting in Chesapeake was exceptionally tragic because the assailant was an employee.
“We feel tragedies like this personally and deeply. But this one is especially painful as we have learned the gunman was a Walmart associate,” Furner said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken. Our hearts and prayers are with those impacted, and we are grateful for the actions of first responders.”
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.
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