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Walmart manager kills 6 in Virginia in another mass murder

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A Walmart manager pulled out a gun before a routine employee meeting and began shooting wildly around the break room of a Virginia store, killing six people in the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days. police and witnesses said.

The gunman was dead when officers arrived Tuesday night at the store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city. Authorities said he apparently committed suicide. Police were trying to determine a motive. An employee described seeing “bodies fall” as the shooter fired at random, without saying a word.

“I was shooting all over the room. It didn’t matter who she hit. She did not say anything. She didn’t look at anyone in any specific way,” Briana Tyler, a Walmart employee, said Wednesday.

Six people were injured in the shooting, which occurred just after 10 p.m. as shoppers were stocking up before the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said they believe about 50 people were in the store at the time.

The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, 31, a night crew leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had a handgun and several ammunition clips.

Tyler said the overnight storage team of 15-20 people had just met in the break room to go over the plan for the morning. She said the meeting was about to start, and a team leader said, “Okay guys, we’ve got a quiet night ahead of us.” Then Bing turned and opened fire on the staff.

At first, Tyler doubted the shooting was real, thinking it was an active shooter drill.

“Almost everything was happening,” he said, adding: “It’s by the grace of God that a bullet didn’t go through me. I saw the smoke come out of the gun and I literally saw bodies fall. It was crazy.”

Police said three of the dead, including Bing, were found in the break room. One of the murdered victims was found near the front of the store. Three others were taken to hospitals where they died.

Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just one night before, said he never had a negative encounter with him, but was told by others that he was “the manager to watch out for.” She said that Bing had a history of texting people for no reason.

“He just liked to choose, honestly. I think she was just looking for little things… because she had the authority. That’s the kind of person he was. That’s what a lot of people were saying about him,” she said.

Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under a table, and Bing looked at her and pointed his gun at her. He told her to go to her house and she left.

Police said the dead included a 16-year-old boy whose name was not known due to his age. The other victims were identified as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lawrence Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all of Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth.

It was not immediately clear if they were workers or shoppers.

Pyle was a “lovely, generous and kind person,” said Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer, who said her son and Pyle had plans to marry next year. Pyle had adult children in Kentucky who will be traveling to Virginia, Spencer said.

“We loved her,” Spencer said, adding, “She was an amazing, kind person.”

The attack was the second time in just over a week that Virginia has experienced a major shooting. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a charter bus as they returned to campus from a field trip on November 13. Two other students were injured.

The Walmart assault came days after a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 17. Last spring, the country was rocked by the deaths of 21 people when a man gunman broke into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. .

The Tuesday night shooting also brought back memories of another Walmart attack in 2019, when a gunman targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, killing 23 people.

A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass murder in the United States since 2006 shows that the US year in the database, which defines a mass murder as at least four people killed, Not including the killer.

According to the database, more than a quarter of mass murders have occurred since October 1. 21, spanning eight states and claimed 51 lives. Nine of those 11 incidents were shootings.

President Joe Biden tweeted that he and the first lady were grieving, adding: “We grieve for those who will have empty seats at their Thanksgiving table due to these tragic events.”

Kimberly Shupe, mother of Walmart employee Jalon Jones, told reporters that her 24-year-old son was shot in the back. She said she was in good condition and speaking on Wednesday, after he was initially placed on a ventilator.

Shupe said he learned of the shooting from a friend who went to a family reunification center to find out where Jones was.

“If he’s not answering his phone, he’s not responding to text messages, and there’s a shooting at his job, you just put two and two together,” Shupe said. “It was a shock at first, but in the end, I kept thinking, ‘he’s going to be okay.'”

Walmart said in a statement that it was working with law enforcement and “focused on doing everything possible to support our associates and their families.”

Following the El Paso shooting, the company made the decision in September 2019 to suspend sales of certain types of ammunition and requested that customers no longer openly carry firearms in stores.

It stopped selling handgun ammunition and ammunition for short-barreled rifles, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military-style weapons.

The company stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s in all states except Alaska, where sales continued through 2019. The changes marked a complete exit from that business and allowed Walmart to focus solely on hunting rifles and ammunition. related.

Many of their stores are in rural areas where hunters rely on Walmart for their gear.

Tyler’s grandfather, Richard Tate, said he dropped his granddaughter off at her 10 p.m. shift, then parked the car and went shopping for dish soap.

When he first heard the shots, he thought it might be balloons bursting. But he soon saw other customers and employees running away, and he ran too.

Tate got to his car and called his granddaughter.

“I could tell she was upset,” she said. “But I also realized that she was alive.”

———

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake; Michael Kunzelman and Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Va.; Hannah Schoenbaum in Raleigh, North Carolina; Anne D’Innocenzio and Alexandra Olson in New York; news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York; and video journalist Nathan Ellgren in Chesapeake.

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