CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov 23 (Reuters) – The manager of a Walmart Inc ( WMT.N ) Virginia store opened fire on co-workers in a break room, killing six, before turning the gun on himself, witnesses said on Wednesday after the latest mass shooting in the country.
The gunman, identified as Andre Bing, 31, of Chesapeake, Virginia, said nothing when he opened fire on the workers who had gathered late Tuesday before their night shift, according to two employees who were in the rest.
“I just watched 3 of my co-workers/friends get killed in front of me,” Donya Prioleau wrote in a Facebook post. “Andre killed them in cold blood… I can’t overlook what happened in that break room.”
At least four were injured in the attack, which occurred while about 50 people were inside the store.
Authorities say they are still investigating what may have motivated Bing, who came armed with a single handgun and several magazines of ammunition. The city said their SWAT team executed a search warrant at his house.
“Detectives are working to learn more about the shooter’s background and what may have motivated the shooting,” the city said.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire.”
Several of Bing’s associates told CNN that he has exhibited strange and sometimes threatening behavior in the past. He also made paranoid comments and expressed concern that the government was monitoring him, according to CNN interviews.
The latest massacre, which followed the killing of five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday, has sparked a new round of condemnations of public officials and calls from activists for stricter gun control.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called the shooting “another horrific and senseless act of violence”, recalling a shooting earlier this month that left three University of Virginia students dead.
“There are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats on Thanksgiving,” he said in a statement.
Bing has worked for the company since 2010, most recently as the leader of a group that spent the night at the cavernous Walmart Supercenter just off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 south of Norfolk.
Jessie Wilczewski told WAVY-TV that she hid under a table and the gunman pointed a gun at her and told her to go home.
“It didn’t even look real until you felt the pow-pow-pow. You can feel it,” said a store employee. “I couldn’t hear her at first because it must have been so loud. I could feel her.”
Tuesday’s bloodshed marked the latest outbreak of gun violence in the United States, which averages two mass shootings — defined as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured — each day, according to GunViolenceArchive.org.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, already facing heightened calls for anti-gun violence policies after the killings at the University of Virginia, ordered flags on local, state and federal buildings to be flown at half-mast.
Kimberly Shupe told WAVY-TV her son Jalon Jones, 24, is stable after being shot in the ear and back. He told her that during a late-night meeting, his manager was acting “weird” and “then started shooting,” she told the news station.
dr. Jessica Burgess, a surgeon who treated the victims at a Norfolk hospital, said she had contacted a colleague in Colorado Springs just two days earlier to offer support.
“So it’s very unfortunate that I’m now in the same position as my colleagues from across the country who are checking on me and my team,” Burgess said. “Sometimes there’s only so much we can do when the damage is already done.”
This was not the first mass shooting at Walmart, which has thousands of stores across the country.
In August 2019, a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, near the US-Mexico border, killed 23 people, an act that law enforcement called domestic terrorism. It was also the deadliest attack on the U.S. Hispanic community in modern times.
After this shooting in 2019, Walmart implemented new restrictions on the sale of guns and ammunition, as it had done during previous shootings in its stores.
“The devastating news of last night’s shooting of one of our associates at our store in Chesapeake, VA has hit our Walmart family hard,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.
Reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey, Siddharth Cavale, Bharat Govind Gautam, Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Shubham Kalia; Additional reporting by Juby Babu; Editing: Gareth Jones, Mark Porter and Bill Berkrot
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