Nearly 10 days after the mass shooting at the University of Virginia, authorities in the state are now trying to piece together what happened in Chesapeake, Virginia, after an employee reportedly opened fire in a Walmart break room.
At least seven people were killed Tuesday, including the shooter, who police suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot. At least five others are being treated at nearby hospitals with injuries.
Representatives for Sentara Healthcare told 13 News Now that two patients are in critical condition, and one is in good condition at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital. Two other people, including one with a gunshot wound, are being treated by Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said it could take days to process the scene. He said the police agency was well-trained for the active-shooter situation and arrived two minutes after the 911 call.
“They responded immediately. We’ll continue to do the work of investigating and answering questions in the days to come,” the chief said at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said Wednesday that he was devastated by “the senseless act of violence that took place.”
“My prayers are with all those affected — the victims, their family, their friends, and their coworkers. I am grateful for the quick actions taken by our first responders who rushed to the scene,” West said in a statement. “Chesapeake is a tight-knit community, and we are all shaken by this news.”
What Happened in Chesapeake, Virginia?
Solesky said 911 dispatchers received a call from inside the Walmart just before 10:15 p.m. The shooting stopped when officers arrived at the store at 10:17 p.m. The scene was declared safe by 11:20 p.m., and multiple bodies were discovered. Sentara Healthcare officials said two victims died at the hospital.
A man dressed in a Walmart uniform, later identified as Kevin Harper, made a live video recounting how he narrowly escaped the shooting. It has been reproduced on several social media platforms.
“Just left out of the break room. Manager come in there starting cappin’ people up in there, starting shooting, bro,” he said. “I am whole, though, y’all. Sadly, we lost a few of our associates.”
Who Was Andre Bing?
The motive for the shooting is unclear. However, employees on the scene and a former employee identified the shooter online early on as a manager at the Walmart store. By Wednesday afternoon Walmart identified the suspect as team manager Andre Bing, 31, who had worked for the company since 2010.
The Chesapeake police SWAT team executed the search warrant at the suspect’s residence by Wednesday before the suspect’s name was released. “His next of kin has not been identified,” the chief said Wednesday morning.
Solesky said Bing was armed with a pistol. He said it is unclear why authorities had difficulty contacting the suspect’s next of kin.
Facebook user Draayia Janaee said she was recently fired from the Walmart store in Chesapeake. She shared a video of Bing, who she identified as the shooter before authorities did. She also identified two people who were allegedly killed that she was “close to” at the store. Janaee said they would often joke around with Bing.
The man captured in the video appeared to be African-American. Janaee films him without his knowledge while he talks excitedly about driving in the back of the store.
“We were driving it in the back. Actually, it was more fun than driving a car to me,” the man tells a woman off-camera. He ducks and walks away when he realizes Janaee is recording.
“Get out of here,” Bing said.
The FBI’s Norfolk office is assisting the Chesapeake Police with the investigation.
Chesapeake is the second-largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Census data shows 59.7 percent of the population is white, 29.7 percent is Black, 5.2 percent are two races are more, and 3.4 percent are Asian.
State Sen. L. Louise Lucas, who represents Chesapeake, told CNN that the community is currently “on pins and needles.”
“We’re on edge because we don’t know where the next mass shooting is going to occur,” she said. “And for people who don’t think it’s going to happen in their community, in their school, in their Walmart, in their church, all they gotta do is wait because they’re going to be in line until we do something to prevent the destruction of lives through gun violence.”
What Co-Workers Said About Andre Bing
Comments on Janaee’s post indicate that Bing may have been exhibiting mental health issues.
One commenter said she “knew one day he was gonna snap. I just didn’t know to what extent.”
“But you got to remember I kept telling y’all that boy was crazy in the head,” wrote Clarence Pitt.
“Everybody knew that tho … just ain’t think he would do sumn like this,” Janaee replied.
CNN also reports that Bing was the overnight “team lead” at the store. Two former co-workers told The New York Times Bing would cover cameras on his cellphone with tape out of fear that the government was surveilling him.
“Everyone called him weird,” said Shaundrayia Reese, who worked on the store’s overnight crew for two years. “That was all anyone could say about Andre.”
Reese and other former co-workers told the Times Bing would sometimes have a “nasty attitude” and would be hostile at times.
Joshua Johnson, who worked as maintenance worker at the Walmart until 2019, also told CNN Bing made threats against store while he was there.
“He said if he ever got fired from his job he would retaliate and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.
An upset coworker in Harper’s video tells him that Bing had just left an office and waited until everyone was in the break room to started shooting.
“Wendy said, ‘Andre, please, please.’ He said, ‘Get the f-ck out of here,’ the woman said off-camera.
At one point, Harper consoles the woman as she sobs.
“I thought I was gon’ die,” she weeps.
Recent Mass Shootings
The Chesapeake shooting comes hours before the suspect in another massacre is scheduled to go before a judge. Police say Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, walked into the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night with an AR-style weapon and a handgun and opened fire on dozens of partygoers. Five people were killed and 19 others were injured.
Six days before the Colorado shooting, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. pulled out a gun on a charter bus. He shot five other University of Virginia students as they were returning to the campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, from a play in Washington, D.C.
“We overnight, again, had a, just a horrendous senseless act of violence in Chesapeake, and the investigation is ongoing,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said. “Our hearts are just completely broken this morning yet again in the commonwealth of Virginia.”
The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012 defines a mass killing as “three or more killings in a single incident.”
More than 600 mass shootings have been reported in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, including the May shooting in Buffalo that targeted Black shoppers.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday the federal government is ready to provide any necessary aid and called for “greater action” on gun reform.
“Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of our most cherished holidays that brings us together as Americans and as families, when we hug our loved ones and count our blessings,” Biden said. “But because of yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving.”