November 26, 2022

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — (AP) — A Walmart manager opened fire on fellow employees in the break room of a Virginia store, killing six people in the nation’s second mass shooting in four days, police said Wednesday and a witness.

The gunman, who apparently shot himself, was dead when police found him, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark G. Solesky said. There was no clear motive for the shooting, which also sent four people to the hospital.

The store was busy even before Tuesday night’s attack, with people stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, a shopper told a local television station.

Employee Briana Tyler said workers gathered in the store’s break room as they usually did before their shifts.

“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” adding that “several people” fell to the floor.

“He didn’t say a word, he didn’t say anything,” she said.

Solesky confirmed that the shooter, who used a handgun, was a Walmart employee, but did not release his name because his family had not been notified. The police chief could not confirm whether the victims were all employees.

Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under the table and the shooter looked at her with the gun pointed at her, told her to go home and left.

“It didn’t even look real until you could feel it … ‘pow-pow-pow,’ you can feel it,” Wilczewski said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud, I could feel it.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted Wednesday morning that he had been in contact with law enforcement officials and said he would make resources available as the investigation moves forward.

“Our hearts go out to the Chesapeake community this morning,” Youngkin wrote. “Heinous acts of violence do not happen in our communities.”

It was the second time in a little more than a week that Virginia experienced a major shooting. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a charter bus while returning to campus from a field trip on November 13. Two other students were injured in the shooting.

“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place in our city last night,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement posted Wednesday on the city’s Twitter account. “Chesapeake is a close-knit community and we are all shaken by this news.”

A database run by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America since 2006 shows that this year has been particularly violent.

The United States has now had 40 mass killings so far this year, compared to 45 for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.

The Walmart attack came three days after a man opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. Earlier in the year, the country was rocked by the deaths of 21 people when an armed man stormed a primary school in Uvalde. , Texas.

The military on Tuesday night brought back memories of another at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people.

A 911 call about the shooting in Chesapeake, which is Virginia’s second-largest city and is near the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, came in just after 10 p.m. The store was open at the time, but Solesky didn’t know how. many shoppers were inside or if the gunman was working.

Asked if a security guard was present, the police chief said he did not know.

Joetta Jeffery told CNN she received text messages from her mother who was inside the store when shots were fired. Her mother, Betsy Umphlett, was not injured.

“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery said. “I was just talking to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, and then this text came in.”

A man was seen crying at a hospital after learning his brother had died, and others screamed as they left a conference center set up as a family reunification center, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Camille Buggs, a former Walmart employee, told the newspaper that she went to the conference center looking for information about her former co-workers.

“You always say you don’t think it would happen in your town, in your neighborhood, in your store — in your favorite store, and that’s the thing that shocked me,” said Buggs, 58, of Chesapeake.

Walmart tweeted Wednesday morning that it was “shocked by this tragic event.”

Sen. Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “devastated by the news of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”

State Sen. Louise Lucas echoed Warner’s sentiment, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting happened in a Walmart in my district.”

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