CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A shooter opened fire in a Walmart in Virginia late Tuesday, leaving six people dead, police said, in the country's second high-profile mass killing in a handful of days. The assailant is also dead.
The store in Chesapeake is now safe and will likely be closed for several days during the investigation, Officer Leo Kosinski said in the early hours of Wednesday.
It was not clear who the shooter was or what their motive might be. But, employees who witnessed the shooting claimed it was another employee.
“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 and all the people I know made it. Literally, just walked out of the place he shot up,” Kevin Harper, a Walmart employee said in a social media video that was shared by CBS News.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement posted on the city's Twitter account. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
“We heard several shots inside…there was a person down-who is still down out front. Another person (paramedics) took out and they are going back in with a stretcher,” Jeremy Basham, a shopper said on a social media video provided by CBS News.
A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows this year has been especially bad. The U.S. has now had 40 mass killings so far this year, second to the 45 that occurred for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.
The attack at the Walmart came three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. Earlier in the year, the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Kosinski said he couldn’t say how the shooter died but that he didn’t believe police fired shots.
The shooting had apparently stopped when police arrived at the store in Chesapeake, which is Virginia’s second-largest city and lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Sentara Healthcare, said in a text message that five patients from the Walmart were being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions weren’t immediately available.
Walmart tweeted early Wednesday that it was “shocked at this tragic event.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”
State Sen. Louise Lucas echoed Warner's sentiment, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district."
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin also tweeted Wednesday, saying, "Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities."
Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Seares issued the following statement:
"Our hearts continue to grieve as we learn of more victims of senseless violence in Chesapeake. We mourn the many victims of fatal violence and suicide around the Commonwealth and our nation. Our society is hurting. All life is precious. I commit to making mental health issues a priority of my office and will be working with the Governor, Attorney General, the General Assembly, and local leaders to address this crisis. Let us grieve and pray for these families as we begin to gather for Thanksgiving, as they will have one last chair at their tables."
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