The Walmart manager who killed six people and himself in a massacre has been identified as 31-year-old Andre Bing, according to two law enforcement sources, a witness and a source familiar with the matter.
Bing was an overnight “team lead” for the Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, the source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Police have not publicly identified the shooter, telling reporters they had not yet reached the gunman’s next of kin after he apparently shot himself. But Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said the shooter was an employee of the store.
The police department did not respond to a request for comment about the identity of the shooter.
The motive behind the attack remains a mystery.
The deadly rampage started around 10.12pm on Tuesday (US time), less than an hour before the Walmart Supercenter was set to close.
Four people injured in the attack remained hospitalised, the police chief said. At least two were in critical condition, said Dr Michael Hooper, vice president and chief medical officer at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Employee Briana Tyler said workers had gathered in the break room as they typically did ahead of their shifts.
“I looked up, and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America, adding that “multiple people” dropped to the floor.
“He didn’t say a word, he didn’t say anything at all,” she said.
Solesky confirmed that the shooter, who used a pistol, was a Walmart employee but did not give his name because his family had not been notified. The police chief could not confirm whether the victims were all employees.
Employee Jessie Wilczewski told Norfolk television station WAVY that she hid under the table and the shooter looked at her with his gun pointed at her, told her to go home and she left.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the … ‘pow-pow-pow,’ you can feel it,” Wilczewski said.
“I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud, I could feel it.”
Governor Glenn Youngkin tweeted that he was in contact with law enforcement officials in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city, which lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
“Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning,” Youngkin wrote. “Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”
Officers responded to the store about 10.12pm Tuesday (2.12pm Wednesday AEDT) and found evidence of a shooting inside, Chesapeake Police public information officer Leo Kosinski told CNN.
The shooting had apparently stopped when police arrived at the store in Chesapeake, which is Virginia’s second-largest city and lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Sentara Healthcare, said in a text message that five patients from the Walmart were being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions weren’t immediately available.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN that she received text messages from her mother who was inside the store when the shots were fired. Her mother, Betsy Umphlett, was not injured.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery said. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
Camille Buggs, a former Walmart employee, told the newspaper she went to the conference center seeking information about her former co-workers.
“You always say you don’t think it would happen in your town, in your neighborhood, in your store — in your favorite store, and that’s the thing that has me shocked,” Buggs said.
Walmart tweeted early Wednesday that it was “shocked at this tragic event”.
US Senator Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake”.
State Senator Louise Lucas echoed Warner’s sentiment, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district”.
Earlier in the year, the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Tuesday’s shooting also brought back memories of another at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso and killed 22 people.
In the aftermath of the El Paso shooting, Walmart made a decision in September 2019 to discontinue sales of certain kinds of ammunition and asked that customers no longer openly carry firearms in its stores.
It stopped selling handgun ammunition as well as short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military style weapons. Walmart also discontinued handgun sales in Alaska.
The company had stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s in every state but Alaska. The latest move marked its complete exit from that business and allowed it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.
Many of its stores are in rural areas where hunters depend on Walmart to get their equipment.