Witness: Walmart shooter appears to have targeted specific people

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — A Walmart executive who shot and killed six social workers in Virginia appeared to target people and shot some of the victims after they were already wounded and appeared to be dead, said a witness who was present when the shooting began.

Jessica Wilczewski said the workers gathered rest room in the shop to start his night shift late Tuesday when crew chief Andre Bing walked in and opened fire with a gun. While another witness described Bing shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she watched him target certain people.

“The way he was behaving — he was going hunting,” Wilczewski told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The way he looked at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he picked people.”

She said she saw him shoot people who were already on the ground.

“What I do know is that he made sure the one he wanted was dead,” she said. “He came back and shot the bodies that were already dead. To make sure that.”

Wilczewski said she had only been working at the store for five days and had no idea who Bing was getting along with or having problems with. She said she was spared, perhaps because she was a new employee.

She said that after the shooting started, a colleague sitting next to her dragged her under the table to hide. She said at one point Bing told her to get out from under the table. But when he saw who she was, he said to her, “Jesse, go home.” She said she slowly got up and then ran out of the store.

Police are trying to determine a motive, while former colleagues struggle to understand what is happening in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people near the Virginia coast.

Some who worked with Bing, 31, said he had a reputation as an aggressive if not hostile manager who once admitted to having “anger issues.” But he could also make people laugh and seemed to handle the typical job stresses that many people experience.

“I don’t think he had a lot of people to rely on in his personal life,” said Nathan Sinclair, who worked at Walmart for nearly a year before leaving earlier this month.

In conversations between colleagues: “We will think that work is consuming my life.” And (Bing) would say, ‘Yeah, I don’t have a social life anyway,'” Sinclair recalled Thursday.

Sinclair said he and Bing did not get along. Bing was known for being “verbally hostile” to employees and was not particularly well-liked, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was bullied and not necessarily treated fairly.

“It is not known what he could be thinking. … You never know if someone really doesn’t have a support group,” Sinclair said.

All in all, Bing seemed pretty normal to Janice Strosberg, who knew him from working at Walmart for 13 years before he left in June.

Bing can be “grumpy,” but he can also be “calm,” she said. He made people laugh and told Strausberg that he liked dancing. When she asked him to church, he declined, but mentioned that his mother was a preacher.

Strausberg believed that Bing’s grumpiness was due to the stress that comes with any job. He also once told her that he “had anger issues” and complained that he was going to “get the managers in trouble”.

She never expected this.

“I think he had some mental issues,” Strausburg said Thursday. “What else could it be?”

Tuesday night’s violence in Chesapeake was the nation’s second mass shooting in four days. Bing was dead when officers reached the store in the state’s second-largest city. Authorities said he apparently shot himself.

The police have identified the victims as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kelly Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all of Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth. Among the dead was a 16-year-old boy, whose name has not been released because of his age, police said.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.

Crystal Kawabata, a spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that the agency is assisting police in the investigation, but referred all inquiries to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigating agency.

Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, said that Bing was going off randomly.

“He was just shooting all over the room. It didn’t matter who he hit,” Tyler told the AP Wednesday.

Six people were also injured in the shooting, which happened just after 10 p.m. as shoppers were stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said about 50 people were in the store at the time.

Bing was identified as a night supervisor who had worked at Walmart since 2010. Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition.

Tyler said the night stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning’s plan. Another team leader started talking when Bing entered the room and opened fire, Tyler and Wieczewski said.

Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago and had only worked with Bing the night before, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “a manager to watch out for.” She said Bing had previously recorded people for no reason.

The attack was the second mass shooting in Virginia this month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on the bus on November 13, when returning from an excursion. Two more students were injured.

The Walmart shooting also comes days after the man opened fire in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. — Five killed and 17 injured Tuesday night’s shooting brought back memories of another Walmart attack in 2019, when a gunman killed 23 people at a store in El Paso, Texas.

Wilczewski, who survived Tuesday’s shooting in Virginia, said she tried but couldn’t bring herself to visit a memorial in the store’s parking lot Wednesday.

“I wrote a letter and wanted to publish it,” she said. “I wrote to those whose death I watched. And I said I’m sorry I wasn’t louder. Too bad you didn’t feel my touch. But you were not alone.”


Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake and news researchers Rhonda Schaffner and Randy Hershaft in New York contributed to this report.

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