A manager at a Walmart Inc. (WMT.N) store in Virginia entered a break room and opened fire on fellow employees before turning the gun on himself, an eyewitness said on Wednesday, leaving a total of seven dead in the latest mass shooting in the United States.
Walmart employee Briana Tyler told ABC’s Good Morning America that the suspect, who police have not identified, said nothing as he began firing on the workers gathered ahead of their shift late Tuesday.
“I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Tyler said. “He didn’t say a word. He didn’t say anything at all.”
Using a pistol, the suspect also injured at least four people, who were being treated at area hospitals, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky told a news conference on Wednesday. He did not disclose a possible motive for the shooting, but said the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Coming on the heels of the killing of five people at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub on Saturday, the latest massacre prompted another round of condemnations by public officials and calls by activists for tighter gun control.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday called the shooting “yet another horrific and senseless act of violence,” vowing any federal resources needed to aid in the investigation.
“There are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” he said in a statement, noting a shooting earlier this month that left three University of Virginia students dead. “We must take greater action.”
Employees told media that the shooter was a manager at the cavernous Walmart Supercenter just off Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people south of Norfolk.
“The Battlefield Walmart just got shot up by one of my managers. He killed a couple of people. By the grace of God I made it out,” another employee, Kevin Harper, told CBS.
Jessie Wilczewski told WAVY-TV that she hid under a table and the shooter pointed the gun at her and told her to go home.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel the pow-pow-pow. You can feel it,” the store employee said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud. I could feel it.”
Tuesday’s bloodshed marked the latest spasm of gun violence in the United States, where an average of two mass shootings — defined as an incident killing or injuring four or more people — occur every day, according to GunViolenceArchive.org.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who was already facing stepped-up calls for policies to address gun violence in the wake of the University of Virginia killings, ordered flags at local, state and federal buildings to be flown at half-staff.
“Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities,” Youngkin wrote on Twitter.
It is not the first mass shooting at a Walmart, which has thousands of stores across the United States.
At a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, 23 people were killed in a mass shooting near the U.S.-Mexico border in an act described as domestic terrorism by law enforcement. It was also the deadliest attack on the Hispanic community in modern times. Patrick Wood Crusius, then 21, from Allen, Texas, was arrested in the shooting and he left behind a manifesto with white nationalist and anti-immigrant themes.
Walmart in a statement on Wednesday said it was “shocked” at the violence at the Chesapeake store and it was working closely with law enforcement.