At least two employees remain hospitalized after a manager killed six co-workers before committing suicide as authorities investigated this week’s mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.
The shooting happened on Tuesday night — two days before Thanksgiving — minutes after 10 p.m. in the employee break room where some workers were getting ready to start their night shift.
Except for six employees who did not survive, others continued to receive treatment.
Chesapeake City officials said in a tweet Thursday that one victim was hospitalized on Thanksgiving in critical condition, while the other was in “average/improving condition.” Another victim was released on Wednesday, a Sentara Norfolk General Hospital spokesman told CNN.
“This Thanksgiving, we are deeply grateful to our community and our thoughts are with every victim of the Walmart shooting and their families,” Chesapeake city officials said. say online.
“Today we are only focusing on those injured in Tuesday’s tragic incident, but the police investigation continues,” the official said, adding that more information would be provided on Friday.
Those killed were Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tynica Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, 52, according to authorities. Kelly Pyle with a 16-year-old boy, who has not been named because he is a minor.
As police work to determine a motive for one of at least three mass shootings in Virginia this month, Chesapeake officials announced a vigil for victims will be held Monday night in a city park.
“The Chesapeake is a close-knit community and we are all appalled,” Mayor Rick West said in a message posted online earlier this week. “Together, we will support each other during this time.”
The tragedy comes as many in the community prepare to spend the holidays with family and friends, following another mass shooting in the United States, sparking an outpouring of grief and trauma over the loss of a loved one.
Another Virginia community has also been suffering loss of life to gun violence. About 170 miles west of the Chesapeake, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student in Charlottesville was arrested and charged after he opened fire on fellow students on Nov. 13, three of whom were on a bus returning to campus from a field trip died on the way to Washington, DC.
A Colorado community was also filled with grief over the weekend when a 22-year-old suspect shot and killed five people and wounded 19 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, authorities said.
Those shootings, and many others, have put the United States on an ominous trajectory, making 2022 the second-highest year for mass shootings on record, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit began tracking such incidents in 2014.
The sudden outbreak of shootings in the Chesapeake this week has seen witnesses say they were shocked and in disbelief when they saw the gunman point a gun at them.
Walmart employee Kevin Harper said the gunman entered the break room and opened fire immediately.
“He came in and started spraying,” Harper said in a video on social media.
The gunman has been identified as Andre Bing, the “team leader” who worked through the night. The 31-year-old employee has worked at Walmart since 2010, the company said. Authorities said he had a semi-automatic pistol and several magazines.
Chesapeake City officials said two slain victims and the gunman were found in the lounge, another victim was found in front of the store, and three others died at the hospital.
Jessie Wilczewski, a recent hire, told CNN she was in regular meetings when the shooting began.
At first, it “didn’t feel like it was real,” she said, until the sound of the gunfire echoed in her chest.
Wilczewski ducked under a table as the gunman walked down a nearby hallway. She said she could see some of her colleagues lying on the floor or in chairs – all motionless, some possibly dead. She stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run out that door…but I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their last moments,” Wilczewski said in a message to the families of the two victims.
When the gunman returned to the break room, he told her to get out from under the table and go home, Wilczewski said.
“I had to touch that (blood-stained) door,” she said. “I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot him in the back — well, he’s going to have to work really hard because I’m running,’ and I booked it. … until I got in the car , I just stopped, and then I broke down.”
Briana Tyler, also a new employee, said she saw the bullet fly inches from her face.
“Suddenly you hear pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap Crack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack clack… “someone just fell to the ground,” she said. Open, keep going through the store, keep shooting.
Aside from this week’s shooting in the Chesapeake, gun violence has turned many ordinary places across the country into crime scenes — from schools and supermarkets to hospitals and shopping malls.
Brett Cross, whose nephew Uziyah Garcia was killed in a Texas school massacre this year, described a deep sense of loss without the 10-year-old boy this holiday season.
A gunman opened fire in Uvaldi’s Robe Elementary School in May, killing 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers before authorities shot him dead.
“After 6 months since our world fell apart, I should be ‘celebrating the holidays,'” Cross wrote in a Thanksgiving social media post. “How you celebrate when you’re devastated. How you give thanks when you have nothing to give. How you fake a smile when you wake up crying.”
In 2018, a former student killed 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, 14, who died in that shooting, said more work needs to be done to combat gun violence.
“Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, due to gun violence, many families do so with empty tables,” Gutenberg wrote in a post 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 the gunman killed him in 2012 Twenty children and six adults died.
“My life was plunged into sadness and chaos. I felt like I was at the bottom of a gigantic hole from which I would never climb out. I didn’t know how to help myself, let alone my loved ones,” Hockley wrote on Thanksgiving Online.
“But in the weeks and months that followed, with the support of those around me, I found a new sense of purpose. To save other children and families from the same fate.”