As authorities investigate this week’s mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., at least two employees remained hospitalized after a manager killed six co-workers before killing himself.
The Tuesday night shooting — two days before Thanksgiving — began minutes after 10 p.m. in the employee break room, where some workers were preparing to start their night shift.
In addition to the six employees who did not survive, others continue to receive medical treatment.
One victim was hospitalized in critical condition on Thanksgiving Day, while another was in “fair/improving condition,” Chesapeake city officials said in a tweet Thursday. Another victim was released on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital told CNN.
“On this Thanksgiving, we are extremely grateful to our community and are thinking of each victim of the Walmart shooting and their family members,” Chesapeake City officials said. said online.
“Today our focus is only on those injured in Tuesday’s tragic event, but the police investigation continues,” officials said, adding that additional information would be provided on Friday.
Those killed are Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52 and a 16-year-old boy, who is not named because he is a minor, according to authorities. .
As police work to determine the motive for one of three mass shootings in Virginia this month, Chesapeake officials announced a vigil for victims scheduled for Monday night in City Park.
“Chesapeake is a tight-knit community and we are all shaken,” Mayor Rick West said in a post online earlier this week. “Together we will support each other through this time.”
The tragedy, which occurred as many members of the community prepared to spend the holidays with family and friends, sparked an outburst of grief and trauma following the loss of loved ones during a another mass shooting in the United States.
Another community in Virginia has also endured the pain of lives lost to gun violence. About 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old student from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was arrested and charged after opening fire on other students on November 13, killing three of them in a bus returning to campus after an excursion. in Washington, DC.
Grief also permeated a Colorado community last weekend, when a 22-year-old suspect shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, injuring 19 others, authorities said.
Those shootings, among many others, put the United States on an ominous path to making 2022 the second-highest year for mass shootings on record, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. profit that began tracking cases in 2014.
The shooting in Chesapeake this week erupted suddenly, with witnesses saying they were shocked and in disbelief when they saw the shooter pointing a gun at them.
Walmart employee Kevin Harper said the shooter walked into the break room and immediately began shooting.
“He walked in there and just started spraying,” Harper said in a social media video.
The shooter was identified as Andre Bing, who was working as a “team leader” overnight. The 31-year-old had worked for Walmart since 2010, the company said. Authorities said he had a semi-automatic handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Two slain victims and the shooter were found in the rest room, another victim was found outside the store and three others died in hospital, Chesapeake City officials said.
Newly hired Jessie Wilczewski told CNN she was in a regular meeting when filming began.
At first it “didn’t register as real,” she said, until the sound of gunfire echoed through her chest.
Wilczewski hid under a table as the shooter walked down a nearby hallway. She could see some of her coworkers on the floor or lying in chairs — all motionless and some likely dead, she said. She stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run through that door…and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their final 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 which was covered (in blood),” she said. “I just remember grabbing my 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 Reserve.” …and I didn’t stop until I got to my car, and then I had a seizure.
Briana Tyler, also a newly hired employee, said she saw bullets flying inches from her face.
“All of a sudden you just hear pa pa pa pa pa pa pa,” Tyler said. “There were people falling to the ground,” she said. “Everyone was screaming, gasping, and yeah, he just walked away after that and continued through the store and kept shooting.
Beyond the shooting in Chesapeake this week, gun violence has turned many ordinary places into crime scenes across the country — from schools and supermarkets to hospitals and malls.
Brett Cross, whose nephew Uziyah Garcia was killed in a school massacre in Texas this year, described a deep sense of loss without the 10-year-old boy this holiday season.
A gunman opened fire inside Robb Primary School in Uvalde in May, killing 19 fourth-grade students and their two teachers before authorities shot him dead.
“6 months since our world was shattered, and I’m supposed to ‘celebrate the holidays,'” Cross wrote in a social media post on Thanksgiving Day. “How do you celebrate when you are devastated. How to give thanks, when you have nothing more to give. How do you pretend and 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 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg who was killed in the shooting, said there was still work to be done in the fight against gun violence.
“Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. Sadly, many families will do so with an empty seat at the table due to gun violence,” Guttenberg wrote in a post. social media post on Thanksgiving Day.
Nicole Hockley lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in 2012.
“My life had been immersed in sadness and turmoil. I felt like I was at the bottom of a gigantic hole that I could never get out of. I didn’t know how to help myself, let alone those I loved,” Hockley wrote online in a Thanksgiving post.
“But in the weeks and months that followed, and with the support of those around me, I found a renewed sense of purpose. To prevent other children and families from suffering the same fate.