Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said Wednesday that the gunman used a pistol in the deadly mass shooting. Later, police said he was armed with one handgun and several magazines.
At the time of the shooting, at least 50 people are believed to have been inside the store.
Walmart said in a statement the shooter was an employee identified as Andre Bing, 31. He was an overnight team lead who was employed with Walmart since 2010, the statement said.
The call for the shooting came in around 10:12 p.m. Tuesday when the Walmart Supercenter was still open to the public, NewsNation affiliate WAVY reported. Night shift workers had just recently checked in.
Officers responding to the shooting found several victims as they swept through the store over the course of about 40 minutes, Officer Leo Kosinski of the Chesapeake Police Department said in a briefing. Rescue teams were sent in to tend to the wounded.
One person was also found deceased outside the front entrance, WAVY reported. The city of Chesapeake said three people, including the shooter, were located deceased in the break room of the store. Police said the gunman, who apparently shot himself, was dead when officers found him. There is only one suspect, the city said.
Three other victims were taken to local hospitals for further treatment, according to the city, but they succumbed to their injuries. At least six other victims were transported to local hospitals for further medical treatment, one of whom is currently in critical condition.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, the area’s closest level 1 trauma center, told WAVY they were treating five victims. Police said victims were sent to multiple hospitals.
Debra Hazlett said her brother, who worked inside the Walmart for 20 years, called her moments after getting shot. While he suffered injuries, Hazlett says simply hearing her brother’s voice brought relief.
“He literally was clocked in ten minutes. You just never know,” she said. “I think the first thing all of us said was, ‘In Chesapeake?'”
Police said as of 3 a.m. ET the store was considered safe. All victims had been located, and there was still an active investigation.
A massive police response mobilized outside of the store after the shooting was reported, with FBI agents and Virginia Beach police responding to assist Chesapeake. The ATF in Washington tweeted just after midnight that they were also on the way to help in the investigation. Police entered the store after getting the call and continued to find victims for about 30 to 45 minutes, Kosinski said.
Chesapeake’s SWAT team executed a search warrant at Bing’s residence, and cleared the house with the help of Virginia State Police.
WAVY spoke to a witness to the shooting who said at one point, she heard the gunman laughing.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the gun go off,” said the witness, who was only on her fifth day working at that Walmart. “I will never go back in that store again. I cannot. I can’t even leave my front door.”
Walmart tweeted its prayers for the victims and said they were “shocked at this tragic event.”
The location in Chesapeake is expected to be closed for several days, police 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.Walmart statement
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on LinkedIn that his heart hurts for the associates and members of the Chesapeake community with lost or injured loved ones.
“We are here for them today and in the challenging days ahead they will have our support,” he said.
A makeshift memorial has been formed in the parking lot of the Walmart.
Tracey Barkley, who lives in Chesapeake, helped make the memorial. She said she’s angry after the shooting.
“As a human being I feel as though there’s a human race that should be looking out for one another,” she said.
Reaction to the shooting began to come in Tuesday night on social media.
“I am absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district in Chesapeake, Virginia tonight,” state Sen. Louise Lucas tweeted. “I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives.”
Sen. Mark Warner tweeted: “Sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake. I’ll be monitoring developments closely.”
President Joe Biden said that “greater action” must be taken on gun reform.
“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,” he said in a statement. “There are now more families who know the worst kind of loss and pain imaginable.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered that flags be lowered at all government buildings until sunset Sunday.