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Names of six victims released in shooting at Virginia Walmart

Walmart employee says gunman, who police say killed himself, was manager who opened fire on workers gathered in break roomSix people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart store in southern Virginia late on Tuesday, in the latest mass shooting to strike the US, this time shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday. The gunman killed himself, police said.A witness, Jessie Wilczewski, told a local TV station, WAVY, the gunman began shooting at a group of about 14 employees gathered in a meeting room at the start of their shift in the store, located in the city of Chesapeake.Wilczewski, who was on her fifth day at the store, said the shooter was a manager who targeted other managers, firing from left to right and at one point laughing.“It didn’t even look real,” Wilczewski said, describing “the pow, pow, pow” of the gun.Briana Tyler, another employee, told ABC workers were gathered as part of their regular routine ahead of their shifts.“I looked up, and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Tyler said. “He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any specific type of way,” she said.Tyler said the overnight stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning plan. She said the meeting was about to start, and one team leader said: “All right guys, we have a light night ahead of us.” Then Bing turned around and opened fire on the staff.At first, Tyler doubted the shooting was real, thinking that it was an active shooter drill.“It was all happening so fast,” she said, adding: “It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me. I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.On Wednesday, the city of Chesapeake identified the gunman as Andre Bing, 31, an overnight team leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition. Three people, including Bing, were found dead in the break room while one deceased victim was discovered near the front of the store, according to the city. Three people died of wounds at the hospital and another six were hospitalized, one in critical condition, the city said.Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just a night earlier, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “the manager to look out for”. She said Bing had a history of writing people up for no reason.“He just liked to pick, honestly. I think he just looked for little things … because he had the authority. That’s just the type of person that he was. That’s what a lot of people said about him,” she said.Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under the table, and Bing looked and pointed his gun at her. He told her to go home and she left.Police said the dead included a 16-year-old boy whose name was being withheld because of his age. The other victims were identified as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, who were all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of nearby Portsmouth.Pyle was a “lovely, generous and kind person”, said Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer, who said that 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 love her,” Spencer said, adding: “She was an awesome, kind individual.”The police chief, Mark Solesky, said Bing died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.Joe Biden released a statement of condolence, while noting his administration’s success earlier this year in getting Congress to approve modest reforms to gun laws and mental health funding following the killing of 21 schoolchildren and teachers at an elementary school in Texas in May.“Because of yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” Biden said. “There are now more families who know the worst kind of loss and pain imaginable.“This year, I signed the most significant gun reform in a generation, but that is not nearly enough. We must take greater action. We are grateful to the first responders who mobilized to assist victims, and I have directed federal officials to provide any support and assistance needed to the people of Chesapeake.”Indeed, the carnage has continued since Biden signed the gun violence bill in June. On Saturday, a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. Last week, a former University of Virginia football player allegedly shot three team members to death on a bus and wounded two others.This year has been a bad one for mass shootings. There have been 40 mass killings in 2022, second to 45 in 2019, according to a database run by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks such events dating back to 2006. The project defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.A Democratic Virginia state senator, L Louise Lucas, said Congress had to do more, telling CBS: “The next step would be for the do-nothing Congress to get up off their asses and back the president in this initiative.“Wake up and save the lives of your constituents, and you can only do that with commonsense … gun violence prevention measures. That’s the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”Solesky told reporters the shooting was reported at 10.12pm on Tuesday, with officers arriving on scene and entering the store minutes later. The Walmart was declared safe about an hour after that and police searched the shooter’s home.Emotional scenes played out at a reunification center set up in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city, and in hospitals nearby.Kimberly Shupe, mother of Walmart employee Jalon Jones, told reporters her 24-year-old son was shot in the back. She said he was in good condition and talking Wednesday, after initially being placed on a ventilator.Shupe said she learned of the shooting from a friend, who went to a family reunification center to learn Jones’ whereabouts.“If he’s not answering his phone, he’s not answering text messages and there’s a shooting at his job, you just kind of put two and two together,” Shupe said. “It was shock at first, but ultimately, I just kept thinking, ‘he’s going to be all right.’”In addition to local police, federal agencies including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the shooting. The city of Chesapeake said the local FBI office had set up a tip line for information, 1-800-CALL-FBI.The Republican governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, said on Twitter: “Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning. I remain in contact with law enforcement officials throughout this morning and have made available any resources as this investigation moves forward. Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”In an interview with Fox News, the governor described the spate of shootings as “really a moment to reflect on the state of mind of America and Virginia and this mental health crisis that we know we are in the middle of”.Youngkin ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff until Sunday. The White House said Biden spoke by phone with the governor on Wednesday and offered further federal assistance.Walmart said: “We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia, store. We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”Associated Press contributed reportingsource

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