CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) – Police say the person who opened fire at a Walmart in Virginia was an employee.
Chief of Chesapeake Police Mark G. Solesky told reporters Wednesday that the gunman killed himself. Six people are dead and four are being treated in hospitals.
Officers responded to a report of a shooting at the Walmart on Sam’s Circle around 10:15 p.m. and as soon as they arrived they found evidence of a shooting, Chesapeake Officer Leo Kosinski said in a briefing.
Over 35 to 40 minutes, officers found multiple dead people and injured people in the store and put rescue and tactical teams together to go inside to tend to victims, he said.
Police believe there was one shooter, who is dead, he said. They believe that the shooting had stopped when police arrived, Kosinski said. He did not have a number of dead, but said it was “less than 10, right now.”
Kosinski said he doesn’t believe police fired shots, but he could not say whether the shooter was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.
“We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store,” Walmart tweeted early Wednesday. “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 tweet said.
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Sentara Healthcare, said in a text message that five patients from the Walmart are being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions weren’t immediately available.
Gov. Youngkin reacted to the tragedy, saying:
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.— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) November 23, 2022
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West posted a statement on Twitter as well, offering his condolences:
A message from Chesapeake Mayor Rick West. pic.twitter.com/YqCW98S8lO— City of Chesapeake (@AboutChesapeake) November 23, 2022
The Virginia shooting comes three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. That shooter, who is nonbinary, was arrested after patrons at the club tackled and beat them. The shootings come in a year when the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Tuesday’s shooting also brought back memories of another shooting at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso and killed 22 people. Walmart didn’t have a security guard on duty that day.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner tweeted that he is “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.”
Chesapeake police tweeted that a family reunification site has been set up at the Chesapeake Conference Center. This site is only for immediate family members or the emergency contact of those who may have been in the building, the tweet said.
Chesapeake is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of Norfolk.