Jorge L. Ortiz, Claire Thornton and Paul Bibeau
CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The shooter who killed six people at a Walmart in Virginia late Tuesday was targeting co-workers, “going hunting” and making sure they were dead, according to a witness.
Jessica Wilczewski said overnight team leader Andre Bing came into the break room before the late shift started and opened fire with a purpose, contradicting the account of another witness who said the gunman shot wildly.
“The way he was acting – he was going hunting,” Wilczewski told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The way he was looking at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he was picking people out.”
Wilczewski, who had worked at the store only a few days, said the gunman let her go when he recognized her, but fired again at other employees he had already hit and were down.
“What I do know is that he made sure who he wanted dead, was dead,” she said. “He went back and shot dead bodies that were already dead. To make sure.”
On Wednesday, fellow Walmart worker Briana Tyler had said Bing “was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit.”
Police said Bing, who had a handgun and multiple magazines, was found dead in the break room from a likely self-inflicted gunshot wound. Bing, 31, had been a Walmart employee since 2010, the company said.
Police investigating motive for 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 say Bing pulled out a handgun Tuesday night before an employee meeting and began firing in the break room. It was the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days.
On Thanksgiving, first responders were still at the site of the shooting, local truck driver Zachary Adkins told USA TODAY. Adkins said he drove to the Walmart – which remained closed – Thursday morning to try to buy a meal for the responders, who politely declined.
“Just wanted to come out here, pay our respects, because it’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “And some people aren’t going to have their family.”
Police investigate possible motive
Investigators had not determined a motive in the shooting as of Thursday morning, but were “actively working on it,” Chesapeake master police officer Leo Kosinski said.
The FBI’s Norfolk field office is assisting Chesapeake police with the investigation.
The city of Chesapeake previously said in a news release that a SWAT team “executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence and with the help of Virginia State Police cleared the house.”
Who were the victims?
Authorities released the names of all but one of the victims Wednesday. Walmart confirmed all those killed, who ranged in age from 16 to 70, were employees.
Police said the name of a 16-year-old boy who was killed is 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.
Many had been longtime Walmart employees, and one planned to retire next year.
Jasmine Rankins, a former employee at the Walmart store, told USA TODAY that Pendleton had been “a really good friend” since 2018 and that the two would always joke and laugh together.
Rankins said she and her husband saw Pendleton at the Walmart last week, and she promised to give him a present for his coming birthday.
A makeshift memorial to Johnson was placed in a grassy area outside the Walmart with the words, “Our Hearts are with you” and a basket of flowers.
The remembrance included a cluster of blue, white and gold balloons tied to a tree, alongside a yellow line of police tape.
Pyle was remembered as a generous and kind person, a mother who had wedding plans in the near future.
“She was going to marry my son next year. She was an awesome, kind individual,” said Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer.
Pyle had adult children in Kentucky who will be traveling to Virginia in the wake of 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 big family and was planning a Thanksgiving dinner with his mother, Linda Gamble said.
“I just wanted my boys to spend time with me,” Gamble told the Post.
She and her husband, Alonzo Gamble, said Lorenzo was quiet and reserved but loved spending time with his two sons, according to the Post.
Chesapeake community mourns
Walmart set up a resource center for store associates and their family members, the city of Chesapeake said on Twitter.
Chesapeake locals will “share this burden together” and be stronger for it, Mayor Rick West said in a video statement Wednesday, adding that support is already pouring in from around the country.
“I know this community and I know it well, and I know that we will come together and lend a helping hand to the victims’ families,” West said.
Rebecca Cowan, a licensed counselor, came to the memorial outside the Walmart to leave a small bouquet of flowers. She teaches a Walden University course about trauma and responds to mass shootings with the Red Cross.
“I think it’s important to recognize that entire communities are impacted by this,” she said, adding that the effects ripple outward through the area.
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 did not bring up any criminal charges against Bing. USA TODAY could not locate any social media pages for him.
What we know about the gunman:Virginia Walmart manager fatally shoots 6
Contributing: Thao Nguyen, Kayla Jimenez, Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press