Six people were killed in the attack, and the alleged gunman was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities say.
Police say six people were killed and several more were injured after an employee opened fire at a Walmart in Virginia on Tuesday night, just the latest mass shooting in less than a week.
“While our investigation continues we can tell you the following: six victims have died, four victims are in area hospitals … The suspect is dead due to what we believe is a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Solesky said the gunman, who has not yet been identified, used a pistol to carry out the attack. He confirmed that the suspected gunman was an employee at the store. There is “no risk to the public at this time,” he said.
No further details were immediately available on a motive, nor was it immediately clear if the victims were also employees.
Chesapeake public information officer Leo Kosinski said shortly after the violence unfolded late Tuesday that the call to authorities came in at 10:12 p.m. Police responded in “active shooter fashion.”
“We go inside and to make a long story short, over the course of the next 30-45 minutes we were able to find multiple fatalities and multiple injured parties,” Kosinski said.
The shooting was over when cops arrived, with police firing not a single bullet.
The store had reportedly been teeming with shoppers shortly before the gunfire erupted. “People were being very friendly, talking about Thanksgiving—what they had to do, what they had to get,” one shopper told local station 13News Now. She said she’d seen long checkout lines and a full parking lot shortly before 9 p.m.
Just over an hour later, authorities were forced to urge the public to stay away.
The City of Chesapeake Twitter account pleaded with residents late Tuesday: “Our first responders are well-trained and prepared to respond; please give them space to do so.” In a later message, they posted: “We’re only a few hours into the response, so we don’t have all the answers yet. Chesapeake Police continue their investigation into the active shooter event at Walmart on Sam’s Circle.”
FBI and police were on the scene interviewing employees and people who were in the store. A spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital told WAVY that five patients were being treated there.
A man who identified himself as a store worker at the Walmart, Kevin Harper, posted a Facebook Live on Tuesday night after the shooting. He was seen standing outside the store as police cars swarmed around it.
“It’s wild, though, it was the manager, one of the managers,” he said as sirens could be heard blaring behind him. Police would not confirm that detail at the time.
The video follows Harper touching base with other colleagues from the store as they discuss what happened and who made it out alive.
“Blew people’s brains out and everything…,” he was heard saying. “He came in and just started spraying and shit.”
“I’d just left out of the break room, manager come up in there, started capping people up in there, started shooting, bro. The manager came in, started dumping, man. As soon as I left out the break room he went in there, man… that shit wild.”
“Sadly, though, we lost a few of our associates, I don’t know how many.”
Harper said he heard the shooter getting closer to him so he “booked it and got up out of there.”
The surviving colleagues appeared to be in shock as they discussed the possible identity of the shooter. “Manager guy? Why he shoot everybody?”
“I seen brains,” one woman could be heard crying in the background of the video as he asked if she was all right.
“What the hell was going through his mind?”
In another social media post, Joetta Jeffrey, whose mother was at the Walmart as the shooting occurred, said her mom told her “they took a man out in a shopping cart because there wasn’t enough stretchers.”
“Praying for the victims families. I don’t know what I would of done if I would of got a call or text that was completely different,” she said after sharing the chilling texts her mom sent as the shooting took place.
Worried families converged on the Chesapeake Conference Center late into the night, hoping to learn that their loved ones were safe at the family reunification center set up by authorities. The Virginian-Pilot reports that mournful cries could be heard from inside the center, and one man was seen reacting to devastating news at a local emergency room.
“They killed my brother,” the man was quoted yelling, before running away in anguish.
The shooting at the Chesapeake Bay Walmart marked the 31st mass shooting in November alone, according to Gunviolence.org.
In a statement to ABC, Walmart said: “We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia, store. We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement on Twitter. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who represents the district, said: “Tragically, our community is suffering from yet another incident of senseless gun violence just as families are gathering for Thanksgiving. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”
The incident comes days after an attack on queer venue Club Q in Colorado Springs, where a rifle-toting gunman opened fire during a drag show, killing five and injuring more than a dozen before he was tackled by heroic patrons.
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