An employee of a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened fire on colleagues Tuesday evening, killing six people and wounding four more at the retail outlet before turning the gun on himself, the city’s Police Chief Mark Solesky said Wednesday morning.
Officers were dispatched to an active threat situation at the Walmart Supercenter at 10:12 p.m. local time, Chesapeake police spokesperson Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene Tuesday evening. Solesky said officers were on the scene within two minutes, entered the store two minutes after that and within just about an hour they had cleared the store and located all of the victims.
The suspect was also found dead and police were not seeking anyone else in connection with the shooting.
Solesky said the suspected employee was found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound. He said a pistol was used in the shooting. The suspect was not identified, pending notification of his next of kin, according to the police chief.
The FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that the agency was providing assistance to the Chesapeake Police Department, which was the lead agency on the investigation.
Four additional victims were still being treated on Wednesday morning in area hospitals, but the nature and extent of their injuries were not clear, Solesky said.
The shooting occurred inside the store, Kosinksi said Tuesday evening, although at least one body was found outside. According to Walmart’s website, the store was open to customers at the time of the shooting.
A man who said he was a shopper described the scene in cellphone video, CBS News chief national affairs and Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.
“We heard several shots inside … and all ran out,” Jeromy Basham said. “There was a person down that’s still down out front.”
Another man said in a video he was among the Walmart employees inside the store when the shooting began, Pegues reports.
“I literally walked out the break room, right? And as soon as, probably about, no later than five minutes” there were gunshots, Kevin Harper said.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West released a statement early Wednesday morning saying he was “devastated by the senseless act of violence” and lauding first responders.
West told CBS News that thinking about how to respond to mass shootings has become part of the job for city leaders throughout the country.
“The first feeling was nothing but dread because here it was, I knew what we’d be having to face and what those poor families are going to be facing for years to come,” West said.
Chesapeake is located in southern Virginia’s coastal Hampton Roads region, which includes the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Kosinksi said a “reunification site” was established at the Chesapeake Conference Center, which a city Twitter account said was “for immediate family members or the emergency contact of those who may have been in the building.”
The incident was the second major mass shooting in the U.S. in just the past few days. Five peoplewhen a suspect opened fire in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the early morning hours Sunday.
“Sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia tweeted early Wednesday morning.
Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, also weighed in, saying: “Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning,” in a tweet and adding that “heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”
Walmart provided a statement saying the company was “shocked at this tragic event” and “praying for those impacted, the community and our associates.”
The retail giant said it was “working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
Virginia state Senator Louise Lucas, a Democrat who represents the Chesapeake region that encompasses Chesapeake, said in a tweet that she was “heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district.”
“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” she said.
“Tragically, our community is suffering from yet another incident of senseless gun violence just as families are gathering for Thanksgiving,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia.
According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the United States this year, with at least 36 resulting in fatalities.
A criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, Alan Fox, who has compiled data on shootings in the U.S. for decades, reported the same figure, which he said had made 2022 a record year for such attacks even prior to the incident at the Walmart in Chesapeake.
“I’ve been studying mass killings for over 40 years and I am quite confident that there has never been a year where we’ve had so many,” said Fox in an article published Monday by Northeastern, in the wake of the Colorado shooting.
Fox noted “an unprecedented surge” since the beginning of October alone, during which time he said there had been 13 fatal mass shootings.
“That’s an average of about two mass shootings per week,” Fox said.