November 27, 2022

A woman buys toys at a Walmart store. The shooter was a manager at the Walmart Supercenter just off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake. — AFP

CHESAPEAKE: A Walmart employee killed six people and wounded several others before fatally shooting himself inside a store in Chesapeake, Virginia, authorities said Wednesday, in the latest episode of gun violence in the United States.

The shooter, who has not been identified, used a handgun in the Tuesday night shooting that injured at least four people in addition to the deaths, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said at a news conference.

Following the killing of five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday, the latest massacre has prompted a new round of condemnations from 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”, pledging any federal resources needed to help the investigation.

Biden calls shooting ‘another horrific and senseless act of violence’

“There are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” he said in a statement, noting a shooting earlier this month that left three students dead at the University of Virginia. “We need to take bigger action.”

In addition to the seven confirmed dead, including the shooter, four people were being treated at area hospitals, Solesky said.

Employees told the media that the shooter was a manager at the cavernous Walmart Supercenter located off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 south of Norfolk.

“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and opened fire,” Briana Tyler said, according to ABC News.

“Battlefield Walmart just got shot by one of my managers. He killed a few people. By the grace of God, we made it,” another employee, Kevin Harper, told CBS.

Tuesday’s bloodshed marked the latest spasm in gun violence in the United States, where an average of two mass shootings — defined as an incident that kills or injures four or more people — occur each day, according to GunViolenceArchive data .org.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, already facing heightened calls for policies to address gun violence in the wake of the University of Virginia killings, said he was assisting local law enforcement in its investigation.

“Heinous acts of violence do not happen in our communities,” Youngkin tweeted.

This is not the first mass shooting at a Walmart, which has thousands of stores across the United States.

At a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, 23 people were killed in a mass shooting near the US-Mexico border in what law enforcement described as domestic terrorism. It was also the deadliest attack on the Hispanic community in modern times. Patrick Wood Crusius, then 21, of Allen, Texas, was arrested during the shooting and left behind a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes.

Walmart, in a statement Wednesday, said it was “shocked” by the violence at the Chesapeake store and was working closely with law enforcement.

Published in Dawn, November 24, 2022

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