Witness: Walmart shooter seemed to target certain people
Chesapeake, Va. — The Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six co-workers in Virginia seemed to target people and fired at some victims after they were already hit and appeared to be dead, said a witness who was present when the shooting started.
Jessica Wilczewski said that workers were gathered in a store break room to begin their overnight shift late Tuesday when team leader Andre Bing entered and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said that she observed him target certain people.
“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.”
She said that she observed him shoot at people who were already on the ground.
“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.”
Wilczewski said she had only worked at the store for five days and didn’t know who Bing got along with or had problems with. She said the fact that she was a new employee may have been why he spared her.
She said that after the shooting started, a co-worker sitting next to her pulled her under the table to hide. She said that at one point, Bing told her to get out from under the table. But when he saw who she was, he told her, “Jessie, go home.” She said she slowly got up and then ran out of the store.
Police are trying to determine a motive. It was the nation’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days. The gunman was dead when officers arrived late Tuesday at the store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city. Authorities said he apparently shot himself.
Police identified the victims 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. They said the dead also included a 16-year-old boy whose name was being withheld because of his age.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.
Krystal Kawabata, a spokesperson for the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that the agency is assisting police with the investigation but she directed all inquiries to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigative agency.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, has said that Bing appeared to fire at random.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit,” Briana Tyler, a Walmart employee, told the AP Wednesday.
Six people were also wounded in the shooting, which happened just after 10 p.m. 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 gunman was identified as Bing a 31-year-old 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. Another team leader had begun speaking when Bing entered the room and opened fire, Tyler and Wiczewski both 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.
The attack was the second time in a little more than a week that Virginia has experienced a major shooting. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a charter bus as they returned to campus from a field trip on Nov. 13. Two other students were wounded.
The assault at the Walmart came days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and wounding 17. Tuesday night’s shooting also brought back memories of another attack at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman who targeted Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, and killed 23 people.
A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows that the U.S. has now had 40 mass killings so far in 2022. That compares with 45 for all of 2019, the highest year in the database, which defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.
Earlier this year, the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 people when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake and news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York.