‘Bullets are falling’ as Walmart manager kills 6 in Virginia attack

A Walmart manager pulled out a gun before a routine employee meeting and opened fire in a store break room in Virginia, killing six people in the nation’s second high-profile shooting in four days, police and witnesses said.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — A Walmart manager pulled out a gun before a routine employee meeting and began shooting wildly in the store’s rest room in Virginia, killing six people in the nation’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days, police and witnesses said.

The gunman was dead when officers arrived late Tuesday at a convenience store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city. Authorities said he apparently shot himself. The police were investigating the motive. One officer described watching “bodies fall” as the gunman fired indiscriminately without saying a word.

“He was just shooting all over the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any particular way,” Walmart employee Brianna Tyler said Wednesday.

Six people were injured in the shooting, which happened just after 10 p.m. as shoppers stocked up for the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said about 50 people were in the store at the time.

The gunman was identified as Andre Bing, 31, a night supervisor who had worked at Walmart since 2010. Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition.

Tyler said the night stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning’s plan. She said the meeting was about to start and one of the team leaders said, “Okay guys, we’re in for an easy night.” Bing then turned and opened fire on the personnel.

At first, Tyler doubted the shooting was real, believing it was active training.

“It all happened so fast,” she said, adding, “It’s by the grace of God that the bullet missed me. I saw smoke coming from the gun and I literally watched the bodies fall. It was crazy.”

Police said three of the dead, including Bing, were found in the recreation room. One of the dead was found near the entrance to the store. Three others were taken to hospital where they died.

Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago and had only worked with Bing the night before, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “a manager to watch out for.” She said Bing had previously recorded people for no reason.

“He just loved to pick, to be honest. I think he was just looking for small things… because he had authority. He was just such a person. That’s what many people said about him,” she said.

Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk TV station WAVY that she hid under a table while Bing looked up and pointed a gun at her. He told her to go home and she did.

Police said a 16-year-old boy, whose name has not been released because of his age, was among the dead. The other victims were identified as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kelly Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all of Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth.

It was not immediately clear whether they were workers or buyers.

Pyle was a “wonderful, generous and kind man,” said Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer, who said her son and Pyle plan to marry next year. Pyle had grown children in Kentucky who will go to Virginia, Spencer said.

“We love her,” Spencer said, adding, “She was an amazing, kind person.”

The attack was the second mass shooting in Virginia in just over a week. Three University of Virginia football players were mortally wounded in a charter bus when they returned to campus from a field trip on November 13. Two other students were injured.

The Walmart attack came days after the man opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 17. Last spring, the country was rocked 21 people were killed when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Tuesday night’s shooting also brought back memories another attack at Walmart in 2019, when a gunman targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, killing 23 people.

A The database is managed by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University which tracks all mass murders in America since 2006, shows that there will be 40 mass murders in the US in 2022. That compares with 45 for all of 2019, the highest year in the database, which defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.

More than a quarter of the mass murders have occurred since Oct. 21 in eight states and claimed 51 lives, according to the database. Nine of those 11 incidents were shootings.

President Joe Biden tweeted that he and the first lady were grieving, adding, “We grieve for those who will have empty seats at the Thanksgiving table because of these tragic events.”

Kimberly Shupe, the mother of Walmart employee Jalan Jones, told reporters that 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 the family reunification center to inquire about Jones’ whereabouts.

“When he doesn’t answer his phone, he doesn’t answer his texts, and there’s a shooting at his job, you just put two and two together,” Shupe said. “At first it was a shock, but in the end I kept thinking, ‘he’s going to be fine’.”

Walmart said in a statement that it is cooperating with law enforcement and is “focused on doing everything we can to support our associates and their families.”

After the El Paso shooting in September 2019, the company decided to stop selling some types of ammunition and asked customers to no longer openly carry firearms in stores.

It stopped selling handgun ammunition as well as short-barreled rifle ammunition, such as the .223 and 5.56 calibers used in military-style weapons.

The company stopped selling the pistols in the mid-1990s in all states except Alaska, where sales continued until 2019. These changes marked a complete exit from that business and allowed Walmart to focus solely on hunting rifles and ammunition.

Many of its stores are in rural areas where hunters depend on Walmart to get their gear.

Tyler’s grandfather, Richard Tate, said he drove his granddaughter to her shift at 10 p.m., then parked the car and went to buy dish soap.

When he first heard the gunshots, he thought it might be balloons bursting. But he soon saw other customers and employees fleeing, and he too fled.

Tate went to the car and called his granddaughter.

“I could tell she was upset,” he said. “But I could also tell she was alive.”

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Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake contributed to this report; Michael Kunzelman and Sarah Broomfield in Silver Spring, Md.; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia; Hannah Schoenbaum in Raleigh, North Carolina; Anne D’Innocentio and Alexandra Olson in New York; news researcher Rhonda Schaffner in New York; and video journalist Nathan Elgren in Chesapeake.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

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