A Walmart manager pulled out a handgun before a routine employee meeting and began firing wildly around the break room of a Virginia store, killing six people in the nation’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days, police and witnesses said on Wednesday.
The gunman was dead when officers arrived late on Tuesday at the store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city.
Authorities said he apparently shot himself.
Police were trying to determine a motive. One employee described watching “bodies drop” as the assailant fired haphazardly, without saying a word.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any specific type of way,” said Briana Tyler, a Walmart employee.
Six people were wounded in the shooting, which happened just after 10pm, as shoppers were stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Police said they believe about 50 people were in the store at the time.
The alleged gunman was identified as Andre Bing, 31, an overnight team leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010.
Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Tyler said the overnight stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning plan.
She said the meeting was about to start, and one team leader said: “All right guys, we have a light night ahead of us.”
Then Bing turned around and opened fire on the staff.
At first, Tyler doubted the shooting was real, thinking that it was an active shooter drill.
“It was all happening so fast,” she said. “It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me. I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.”
Police said three of the dead, including Bing, were found in the break room, while one of the slain victims was found near the front of the store.
Three others were taken to hospitals where they died, police said.
Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just a night earlier, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “the manager to look out for.”
She said Bing had a history of writing people up for no reason.
“He just liked to pick, honestly. I think he just looked for little things ... because he had the authority. That’s just the type of person that he was. That’s what a lot of people said about him,” she said.
Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under the table, and Bing looked and pointed his gun at her.
He told her to go home, and she left.
Police said the dead included a 16-year-old boy whose name was being withheld because of his age. The other victims were identified as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, who were all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of nearby Portsmouth.
It was not immediately clear whether they were workers or shoppers.
Pyle was a “lovely, generous and kind person,” Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer said, adding that her son and Pyle had plans to marry next year.
Pyle had adult children in Kentucky who will be traveling to Virginia, Spencer said.
“We love her,” Spencer said. “She was an awesome, kind individual.”
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine