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Chesapeake, Va. Walmart employee shot and killed six people and himself


This day before Thanksgiving, people woke up to news of another mass shooting. This time, it was at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., near Virginia Beach. Police have released the names of five people killed by the shooter - Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Tyneka Johnson, Randall Blevins and Kellie Pyle. A sixth victim was a minor.

NPR's Sarah McCammon spent the day in the area. And, Sarah, this shooting took place around 10 o'clock last night. What more can you tell us about what happened?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: That's right, Ari. You know, police have now identified the shooter as a 31-year-old Walmart employee named Andre Bing from Chesapeake. They say he was armed with a handgun and multiple magazines and that he killed six people at the store where he worked. They say at least 50 people were inside the store at the time of the shooting. At least four people were hospitalized as of this morning, and police say one person remains in critical condition.

Earlier today, outside that Walmart Supercenter, I met Rosario Hines. She says she's worked there for four years, and she was helping customers in the self-checkout area when she heard the gunfire last night.

ROSARIO HINES: Because I hear the bullets - boom, boom, boom, boom - everybody was screaming, everybody. And then I hear people - he shot. He shot. I was running fast. What can I do? I run fast. I forget everything. You running fast for your life.

MCCAMMON: And Hines was back today to retrieve her belongings. While we were talking, FBI agents handed back her purse. She told me that, as she was fleeing last night, she called her son, Christopher. And he was outside the Walmart with his mother today. And he told me that he could tell over the phone when she called that the situation was very serious.

CHRISTOPHER: And I started hearing shots, and I'm like, I'm going there right now. It was really scary. Yeah. I'm just glad I still have my mom.

SHAPIRO: Sarah, what more can you tell us about the shooter and the victims who died?

MCCAMMON: Well, Rosario Hines, who knew him, told me repeatedly that she believed he was a nice guy, that she never imagined something like this happening. She'd seen him drop by the self-checkout area where she was working and drink an energy drink, she said, just before the shooting began. And she told me she was still in shock and, quote, "you never know people."

Now, police haven't released any more information about a possible motive. Walmart says in a statement that Bing worked as an overnight team lead or a manager - that he'd been with Walmart since 2010. And according to city officials, three people, including the gunman, were found dead in the break room. One was found near the front of the store. Three others were taken to local hospitals, but died from their injuries.

SHAPIRO: And you've been talking to people in the community. Tell us about what's going on in Chesapeake beyond the Walmart.

MCCAMMON: Well, outside the location today, people were coming and leaving behind flowers and other mementos. But the mood is very anxious. You know, earlier today, there was a false alarm of another possible shooting at a nearby Target. Police came to that scene with their lights flashing but quickly said there was no threat. It's just a sign, Ari, of how nervous people are. Shawn Goode told me he'd come to that Target to get a drink dispenser for his family's Thanksgiving gathering.

SHAWN GOODE: It's rough, you know? It's rough. With what everything's going on - it's a very bad climate in the world today. It is. You know, it's the holidays. You think everybody's supposed to be happy and enjoying theyself (ph), but, you know, this is - ah, it's hard to say. It's rough. It make you not want to take your kids out nowhere, not want to go nowhere - just stay in the house.

MCCAMMON: And Goode added that he thinks more attention should be paid to mental health.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, and he mentioned the holiday. Of course, this comes just as people are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. That must add a whole layer to the experience of this community.

MCCAMMON: Right, not just fear but also an extra layer of grief to a situation that would be horrific under any circumstances. It also comes just after deadly mass shootings at a queer nightclub in Colorado and at the University of Virginia in the past couple of weeks. Something I heard again and again was just sadness that this keeps happening, happening frequently and even at times like this, which should be times for celebration.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Sarah McCammon in Virginia. Thank you.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.