Jorge L. Ortiz, Claire Thornton and Paul Bibeau
CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The shooter who killed six people at a Walmart in Virginia on Tuesday night was targeting co-workers, “going hunting” and making sure they were dead, a witness said.
Jessica Wilczewski said overnight shift leader Andre Bing walked into the break room before the late shift started and opened fire on purpose, contradicting another witness’s account who said the shooter fired wildly.
“The way he was acting — he was going hunting,” Wilczewski told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The way he looked at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he selected people.”
Wilczewski, who had only worked at the store for a few days, said the shooter let her go when he recognized her, but shot again at other employees whom he had already hit and who were down.
“What I do know is that he made sure whoever he wanted to kill was dead,” she said. “He came back and shot corpses that were already dead. To assure.”
On Wednesday, Walmart co-worker Briana Tyler said Bing “was shooting all over the room. It didn’t matter who he was hitting.”
Police said Bing, who had a handgun and multiple magazines, was found dead in the rest room from a likely self-inflicted gunshot wound. Bing, 31, had been a Walmart employee since 2010, the company said.
Police are investigating the motive for the attack
Authorities worked Thursday to determine a motive in the shooting that killed six people and injured at least six others.
Chesapeake police and witnesses said Bing pulled out a handgun Tuesday night before an employee meeting and began shooting in the break room. It was the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days.
On Thanksgiving Day, first responders were still at the site of the shooting, local truck driver Zachary Adkins told USA TODAY. Adkins said he went to Walmart – which remained closed – on Thursday morning to try to buy a meal from the responders, who politely declined.
“I just wanted to come here, pay my respects, because it’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “And some people won’t have their families.”
Police are investigating a possible motive
Investigators had not determined a motive in the shooting Thursday morning, but were “actively working on it,” Chesapeake Senior Police Officer Leo Kosinski said.
The local FBI office in Norfolk is assisting the Chesapeake Police in the investigation.
The City of Chesapeake previously said in a news release that a SWAT team “executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home and, with the assistance of the Virginia State Police, cleared the house.” .
Who were the victims?
Authorities released the names of all but one of the victims on Wednesday. Walmart confirmed that all of those killed, ages 16 to 70, were employees.
Police say the name of a 16-year-old boy who was killed is withheld due to his age.
The other victims have been identified as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth.
Many were longtime Walmart employees, and one was planning to retire next year.
Jasmine Rankins, a former Walmart store employee, told USA TODAY that Pendleton has been “a really good friend” since 2018 and the two always joke and laugh together.
Rankins said she and her husband saw Pendleton at Walmart last week and she promised to get him a present for his upcoming birthday.
A makeshift memorial to Johnson was placed in a grassy area outside Walmart with the words “Our hearts are with you” and a basket of flowers.
The souvenir included a group of blue, white and gold balloons tied to a tree, along a yellow line of police tape.
Pyle is remembered as a generous and kind person, a mother who had plans for marriage in the near future.
“She was going to marry my son next year. He was a great, kind person,” Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer said.
Pyle had adult children in Kentucky who will travel to Virginia following the tragedy, Spencer said.
Blevins was a longtime member of the store’s team that set prices and arranged merchandise, The New York Times reported.
Gamble was a Walmart employee for 15 years, his mother, Linda Gamble, told The Washington Post.
Gamble came from a large family and was planning a Thanksgiving dinner with her mother, Linda Gamble said.
“I just wanted my boys to hang out with me,” Gamble told the Post.
She and her husband, Alonzo Gamble, said Lorenzo was quiet and reserved but enjoyed spending time with his two sons, according to the Post.
Chesapeake community mourns
Walmart has set up a resource center for store associates and their family members, the city of Chesapeake said on Twitter.
Chesapeakeans ‘will share this burden together’ and be stronger for it, Mayor Rick West said in a video statement on Wednesdayadding that support is already pouring in from across the country.
“I know this community and I know it well, and I know we’re going to come together and give a helping hand to the families of the victims,” West said.
Rebecca Cowan, a licensed counselor, came to the memorial outside Walmart to leave a small bouquet of flowers. She teaches a Walden University course on trauma and responds to mass shootings with the Red Cross.
“I think it’s important to recognize that entire communities are affected by this,” she said, adding that the effects reverberate across the region.
Who was the shooter?
Walmart said Bing was a “team leader” who had worked for the company since 2010.
A search of local and state court records revealed no criminal charges against Bing. USA TODAY could not locate any social media page for him.
What we know about the shooter:Virginia Walmart manager kills 6 people
Contributors: Thao Nguyen, Kayla Jimenez, Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press