Police: Walmart shooter bought gun just hours before killing

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Authorities investigating the fatal shooting of six people at a Walmart said the gunman had bought the weapon just hours before and left a note complaining about co-workers on his phone.

Police in Chesapeake, Va., issued a news release Friday saying they performed a forensic analysis on Walmart supervisor Andre Bing’s phone and found what was described as a “death letter.” Police say he was the shooter and was found dead at the scene of the shooting late Tuesday with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the memo released by police, Bing says co-workers harassed and mocked him.

Police said he was using a 9mm handgun he had purchased legally on Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting. The release said he has no criminal record.

THIS IS UPDATED NEWS. Earlier AP story follows below.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The Walmart manager who shot and killed six co-workers in Virginia appears to have targeted people and fired at some victims after they had already been hit and appeared to be dead, a witness who attended the the shooting began.

Jessica Wilczewski said workers were gathered in a store break room to begin their night shift late Tuesday when crew leader Andre Bing walked in and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she observed him targeting certain people.

“The way he was acting — 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 up.”

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

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

Wilczewski said she had only worked at the store for five days and didn’t know who Bing was getting along with or had problems with. She said that being a new employee may be why she was spared.

She said that after she started shooting, a colleague who was sitting next to her pulled 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 as former colleagues struggle to make sense of the rampage 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, leader who once admitted to having “anger issues.” But he could also make people laugh and seemed to cope with the typical job stress that many people endure.

“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.

During chats between co-workers, “We’d be like” work is consuming my life. And (Bing) would be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t have a social life anyway,'” Sinclair recalled Thursday.

Sinclair said he and Bing don’t get along. Bing was known for being “verbally hostile” to employees and was not well liked, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was mocked and not necessarily treated fairly.

“There’s no telling what he might be thinking. … You never know if someone really doesn’t have some sort of support group,” Sinclair said.

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

Bing can be “embarrassed,” but he can also be “calm,” she said. He made people laugh and told Strausberg that he liked dancing. When she invited 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 came with any job. He also once told her that he had “anger issues” and complained that he would “give managers a hard time”.

She never expected this.

“I think there were mental issues,” Strausberg said Thursday. “What else could it be?”

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

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. The dead included 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, spokeswoman for the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Va., confirmed the agency was assisting police in the investigation, but referred all inquiries to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigating agency.

Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, said Bing appeared to be triggered randomly.

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

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

Bing was identified as an overnight crew leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition.

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

Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just one night earlier, said she’s never had a negative encounter with him, but others have told her he’s “the manager to have cares”. She said Bing has a history of writing people for no reason.

The attack is the second major shooting in Virginia this month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a bus on Nov. 13 while returning from a field trip. Two other students were injured.

The Walmart shooting also comes days after a man opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., killing five and wounding 17. Tuesday night’s shooting brought back memories of another Walmart attack in 2019, when a gunman killed 23 inside 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 I wanted to put it out there,” she said. “I wrote to those I watched die. And I said I was sorry I wasn’t louder. I’m sorry she 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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