Walmart supervisor opens fire on Virginia co-workers, killing 6 and himself

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov 23 (Reuters) – A Walmart supervisor armed with a handgun and several magazines of ammunition opened fire on fellow employees at a Virginia store, killing six before turning the gun on himself in the break room, witnesses and police said on Wednesday.

The country’s latest mass shooting Tuesday night rocked the Chesapeake town, about 200 miles (320 km) south of Washington, and comes on the heels of last weekend’s massacre in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where a gunman killed five at an LBGTQ nightclub.

The Virginia gunman, identified as Andre Bing, 31, of Chesapeake, did not say anything as he began shooting at workers gathered before the overnight shift, according to two employees in the break room, where the rampage ended and Bing turned himself in. Shot dead.

“I just saw 3 of my coworkers/friends hit me,” Donya Priole wrote in a Facebook post. “Andre killed them in cold blood… I can’t see what happened in that break room.”

Police said at least three people were injured in the attack, among about 50 people inside the store, a cavernous Walmart Supercenter off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people.

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The dead included a 16-year-old boy who police did not identify, and 70-year-old Randy Blevins, who was planning to retire in a year, a cousin wrote on Facebook.

The others were Kelly Pyle, 52, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, and Randy Blevins, 70, all of Chesapeake, and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of neighboring Portsmouth.

Authorities say they are investigating whether Bing, an hourly employee who oversaw the overnight shift and had worked for the company since 2010.

“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he opened fire,” another Walmart employee, Briana Taylor, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Some of Bing’s co-workers told CNN that he had displayed strange and sometimes threatening behavior in the past. According to the CNN interview, he also made paranoid comments, expressing concern that the government was monitoring him.

Jessie Wilzewski told WAVY-TV she hid under a table and the shooter pointed a gun at her and told her to go home.

“It didn’t seem real until you could feel the pow-pow-pow. You could feel it,” said a store employee. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I think it was too loud. I could feel it.”

‘Yet another…’

The latest massacre prompted a new round of condemnation from public officials and activists calling for stricter gun control.

President Joe Biden called the shooting “yet another horrific and senseless act of violence” that killed three students at the University of Virginia this month.

“There are now more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” Biden said in a statement.

According to GunViolenceArchive.org, an average of two mass shootings occur each day in the United States, defined as an incident that kills or injures four or more people.

Jessica Burgess, a surgeon who treated the victims at Norfolk Hospital, said she contacted a colleague in Colorado Springs two days ago.

“So it’s very frustrating that I’m in the same position now and that my colleagues around the country are scrutinizing me and my team,” Burgess said. “Sometimes that’s all we can do when the injuries are already done.”

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who was already facing calls to step-up policies to address gun violence after the University of Virginia killings, ordered local, state and federal buildings to close at half staff.

Walmart, which has thousands of stores across the country, has been a victim of gun violence before.

In August 2019, 23 people were killed at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, near the US-Mexico border, in an act described by law enforcement as domestic terrorism. It was also the deadliest attack on the Hispanic community in the United States in modern times.

Walmart implemented new restrictions on gun and ammunition sales after the 2019 shooting, as it had after other shootings at its stores.

“The devastating news of last night’s shooting at our Chesapeake, VA store by one of our associates has hit our Walmart family hard,” Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillan wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey, Siddharth Kewle, Bharat Govind Gautam, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Shubham Kalia; Additional reporting by Jubi Babu; Editing by Gareth Jones, Mark Porter, Bill Burkrot and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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