On Tuesday night, around 10 p.m., the overnight stocking team at the Walmart store on Sam’s Circle in Chesapeake, Virginia, gathered in the break room as they always did.
In the room were 14 members of staff, there to hear from Andre Bing, 31, who was the overnight team lead. Some of the workers recall their manager was chatting normally, but some, like Jalen Shupe, felt something was off, that their manager was “in a mood.”
Then, suddenly, their team leader took out a handgun and opened fire.
“As soon as my team said, ‘All right, we have a light night tonight,’ I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Brianna Tyler, a Walmart employee, told ABC. “He wasn’t aiming at anybody specifically. He just literally started shooting throughout the entire break room and I watched multiple people just drop down to the floor, whether they were trying to duck for cover or they were hit.”
The gunman was shooting from left to right picking targets indiscriminately and laughing, Jessie Wilczewski, one of those in the room, told local news outlet WAVY.
“It didn’t even look real until you could feel when the gun goes off — pow, pow, pow — you can feel it,” Wilczewski said. “I couldn’t hear it at first because I guess it was so loud, I could feel it.”
As the shooting continued, Wilczewski hid under a table, but then heard the gunman call her name: “Jessie, go home,” the gunman said according to Wilczewski, who had started working at the store just five days previously.
Seconds later, the shooter turned the gun on himself.
In total, he killed six colleagues and injured six others, one of whom is on a ventilator fighting for his life.
Five of the six victims were identified Wednesday afternoon as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; Randy Blevins, 70; and Tyneka Johnson, 38. Officials declined to name the final victim, a 16-year-old boy, because he was a minor.
Police, who responded to the reports of a shooting within two minutes on Tuesday night, identified the gunman on Wednesday afternoon, and said that he was armed with a handgun as well as several magazines, adding that he “dressed in civilian clothing and was not wearing any type of armor or a ballistic vest.”
So far police have not commented on the motive behind the shooting, but on Wednesday night WAVY reported that a law enforcement source had revealed that the police had found what they described as a “manifesto” on the gunman’s phone.
The source said the screed describes how the gunman was “upset about the recent change in employment status and was being harassed about it by fellow employees.” The outlet also reported that police found at the Walmart store a piece of paper that contained a list of names of the colleagues he wished to target—though it’s unclear if the list of those who died matched the written list.
Chesapeake Police Department did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment on the existence of the “manifesto” or the list of employees.
Little is known about the gunman who appears to have little-to-no digital footprint. One of his co-workers told CNN the 31-year-old “didn’t like social media” and VICE News was unable to locate any accounts on any major social media platforms under his own name.
Most of what is currently known about the gunman and his possible motive comes from accounts of his behavior given by those who worked with him, who paint a picture of a paranoid loner who could be aggressive and hostile towards his co-workers.
“He was always saying the government was watching him,” Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with the gunman, told CNN. “(He) was a loner. He didn’t like social media and he kept black tape on his phone camera. Everyone always thought something was wrong with him.”
Reese in a separate interview with the New York Times labeled the gunman as “weird.”
“Everyone called him weird. That was all anyone could say about [him],” she said.
In a video posted on Facebook Live by another colleague, Draayia Janaee, the gunman is seen quickly jumping out of frame when he realizes he’s being captured on camera.
In a post on Wednesday, Janaee calls the shooter “sick AF” and in a comment underneath the video calls him a “looney.” Someone else responded by saying: “I knew one day he was gonna snap. I just didn’t know to what extent” while another added: “I kept telling y’all that boy was crazy in the head.”
Also speaking to CNN was Donya Prioleau, who was in the employee break room when the gunman started shooting and described what the gunman was like at work: “He said a lot of disturbing things,” Prioleau said, adding that he was “condescending when he spoke to us. He didn’t have good communication skills. He was quite mean to a lot of us.”
Nathan Sinclair, 21, who managed the shift just before the shooter’s told the New York Times that the gunman was “kind of aggressive” and “hostile” adding that they’d argue on occasion over work matters.
A former employee, who spoke anonymously to WAVY, said that while he remembered the gunman having “issues” they “never saw this coming, not from a million miles away.”
“I mean, from what I saw, he was a good guy, but I’ve heard that he had issues, and they tried to talk him through his issues,” the worker said. “Sometimes he could be a little hard to get along with, some associates didn’t like him. But I don’t think they bullied him.”
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