The gunman is believed to have been acting alone, and ultimately turned the gun on himself.
A shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, last night left at least seven people — including the suspected shooter — dead. The gunman is believed to have been acting alone, and a law enforcement source told CNN that he ultimately turned the gun on himself.
According to that source, the shooter is thought to have been an employee or former employee of the store, who opened fire in the break room.
“It’s sad. We’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday,” Chesapeake Police public information officer Leo Kosinski said per NBC, adding, “It’s just a bad time all around, just for everybody involved — especially the victims. This is horrible.”
A horrifying scene
Officers responded to reports of a shooting at around 10:12 p.m on Tuesday, less than an hour before closing time, Kosinski told CNN. Upon arrival, they discovered the victims and evidence of the violence.
Local police told the press overnight that there had been multiple fatalities, with fewer than 10 people believed to have died. Police are not thought to have fired shots.
Five victims are being treated at Sentara General Hospital in nearby Norfolk, Virginia, but no details of their condition have been released so far. A press conference has been scheduled for 8 am ET. “We’re just a couple hours past the initial incident, so everything is very fluid, very new right now,” Kosinski said overnight.
According to The New York Times, as dawn broke this morning, investigators were “pouring in and out” of Walmart while helicopters circled overhead.
Every relative’s worst nightmare
Joetta Jeffery, whose mother Betsy Umphlett was inside the store when the shooting began, told CNN that Umphlett had texted her when she heard gunfire.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery said. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
Thankfully Umphlett escaped unharmed, and has since been reunited with her daughter.
The official response
Chesapeake city officials have asked local residents to steer clear of the scene while they carry out their investigations. “Our first responders are well-trained and prepared to respond; please give them space to do so” the city said in a tweet. Leo Kosinski said that the store would remain shut for five days while the scene is being examined by officers.
“We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store,” Walmart said in a statement. “We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates,” the statement said.
Senator Mark Warner tweeted: “Sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake. I’ll be monitoring developments closely.”
Governor Glenn Youngkin posted: “Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning. I remain in contact with law enforcement officials throughout this morning and have made available any resources as this investigation moves forward. Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”