motive for attack in Chesapeake, Va., unclear

motive for attack in Chesapeake, Va., unclear
motive for attack in Chesapeake, Va., unclear

CNN

After an ordinary work day turned deadly at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., survivors and investigators spend the Thanksgiving holiday questioning the motive of an employee who opened fire on co-workers, killing six people before turning the gun on himself.

Employees were preparing for a night shift when a manager opened fire with a handgun in the break room just after 10 p.m., officials said.

Authorities have identified those killed as Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52 and a 16-year-old boy, who is not appointed because he is a minor.

Two people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized in critical condition through Thanksgiving, and one injured victim was discharged on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said.

“I know this community and I know it well, and I know that we will come together and give a helping hand to the families of the victims,” Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said in a video message Wednesday.

The shooting, another example of how horrific gun violence upends American life in the most conventional settings, left many mourning the loss of loved ones and survivors traumatized by what they witnessed. As the long journey of processing these emotions begins, questions about what could have led to the murders persist.

Donya Prioleau was in the employee break room when the shooter began shooting at co-workers, she said.

“We don’t know what made him do this,” Prioleau said. “None of us can understand why this happened.”

The shooter was identified as Andre Bing, who worked as a “team leader” at night. The 31-year-old had worked for Walmart since 2010, the company said.

Bing shot three of Prioleau’s friends “before I ran away. Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw all the blood on the floor,” she said.

Two slain victims and the shooter were found in the break room, while another was found outside the store, Chesapeake City officials said, and three others died in hospital. Authorities are trying to determine the exact number of injured as some people may have gone to the hospital.

The motive for the shooting was unclear Wednesday, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said.

Tuesday’s violence was at least the third mass shooting in Virginia this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and comes against a backdrop of grief that many across the country are enduring this Thanksgiving as loved ones have been lost or injured in firefights.

Just 170 miles west of Chesapeake, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student in Charlottesville allegedly opened fire on other students on Nov. 13, killing three on a bus returning to campus after a trip to Washington, DC.

Over the weekend, a 22-year-old man fatally shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, authorities said. And six months ago, on Thursday, a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers, a tragedy in which victims are still searching for answers.

Overall, the United States has suffered more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit and CNN define mass shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, not including the attacker.

In Chesapeake, the horror began less than an hour before the store closed after a long day of holiday shopping.

Jessie Wilczewski, who was recently hired, told CNN she was attending a regular meeting in the break room when she saw the shooter pointing a gun at the doorstep.

At first she didn’t think what she was seeing was real, but then she felt her chest pounding and her ears ringing as a torrent of gunfire erupted, she said. 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, had just started her shift when the gunshots rang out.

“All of a sudden you just hear dad dad dad dad dad dad,” Tyler told CNN, adding that she saw bullets flying inches from her face. “It wasn’t a break between them where you could really try to process it.”

The shooter had a “blank look on his face” as he looked around and shot people, 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 into the store and kept shooting.”

The shooter has displayed disturbing behavior in the past, other employees said.

Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with the shooter from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.

“He always said the government was watching him. He didn’t like social media and he kept black tape on his phone’s camera. Everyone always thought something was wrong with him,” Reese said.

Joshua Johnson, a former maintenance worker at the store, said the shooter made disturbing threats if he lost his job.

“He said if he was ever fired from his job he would fight back and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.

Neither Johnson nor Reese raised concerns about Bing with management, they said.

In a statement, Walmart said it was working with local law enforcement as part of the investigation.

“We personally and deeply feel tragedies like this. But this one is especially painful because we learned the shooter was a Walmart associate,” Walmart US President and CEO John Furner said in a statement. “The entire Walmart family is heartbroken. Our hearts and prayers are with those affected.

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. motive attack Chesapeake unclear

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