The Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six co-workers in Virginia appeared to be aiming at people and shot some victims after they had already been struck and appeared to be dead, said a witness who was present when the shooting began.
Jessica Wilczewski said workers were gathered in a store break room to start their night shift Tuesday night when team leader Andre Bing walked in and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness described Bing shooting wildly, Wilczewski said he observed him target 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 was choosing people.”
She said she saw him shoot people who were already on the ground.
“What I do know is that he made sure that whoever he wanted dead was dead,” he said. “He came back and shot corpses that were already dead. Make sure.”
Wilczewski said he had only worked at the store for five days and did not know who Bing got along with or had problems with. She said that being a new employee may have been the reason she was spared.
She said that after the shooting began, a coworker sitting next to her pushed her under the table to hide. She said that at one point, Bing told her to get out from under the table. But when he saw who she was, he told her, “Jessie, go home.” She said that she slowly got up and then ran out of the store.
Police are trying to determine a motive, while former co-workers struggle to make sense of the riot in Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people near the Virginia coast.
Some of those who worked with Bing, 31, said he had a reputation as an aggressive, if not hostile supervisor, once admitting to “anger issues.” But he could also make people laugh and seemed to be dealing with the typical stress at work that many people endure.
“I don’t think he had a lot of people to turn to 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 would say like ‘work is consuming my life.’ And (Bing) was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t have a social life anyway,’” Sinclair recalled Thursday.
Sinclair said that he and Bing did not get along. Bing was known for being “verbally hostile” to employees and was not particularly liked, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was mocked and not necessarily treated fairly.
“There is no telling what he might have been thinking. … You never know if someone really doesn’t have some kind of support group,” Sinclair said.
Overall, Bing seemed pretty normal to Janice Strausburg, who knew him from having worked at Walmart for 13 years before leaving in June.
Bing could be “grumpy,” but he could also be “placid,” he said. He made people laugh and told Strausburg that he liked to dance. When she invited him to church, he declined but mentioned that his mother had been a preacher.
Strausburg thought that Bing’s bad mood was due to the stress that comes with any job. He also once told her that he had “had anger issues” and complained that he was going to “get the managers in trouble”.
She never expected this.
“I think he had mental issues,” Strausburg said Thursday. “What else could it be?”
The violence Tuesday night in the Chesapeake was the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days. Bing was dead when officers arrived at the store in the state’s second-largest city. Authorities said he apparently committed suicide.
Police have identified the victims as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lawrence Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all of Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth. Also among the dead was a 16-year-old boy whose name was withheld because of his age, police said.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.
Krystal Kawabata, spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that the agency is assisting police with the investigation, but directed all inquiries to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigating agency.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, said Bing appeared to shoot at random.
“I was 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 occurred just after 10 p.m. as shoppers were stocking up before the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said they believe about 50 people were in the store at the time.
Bing was identified as a night crew leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had a handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Tyler said the overnight storage team of 15-20 people had just met in the break room to go over the plan for the morning. Another team leader had started to speak 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 before, said he never had a negative encounter with him but was told by others that he was “the manager to watch out for.” She said that Bing had a history of writing to people for no reason.
The attack was the second major shooting in Virginia this month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a bus on November 13 as they were returning from a field trip. Two other students were injured.
The Walmart shooting also comes days after a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five and injuring 17. The Tuesday night shooting brought back memories of another attack at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman killed 23 in a store. in El Paso, Texas.
Wilczewski, who survived Tuesday’s shooting in Virginia, said he tried but was unable to visit a memorial in the store’s parking lot on Wednesday.
“I wrote a letter and wanted to publish it,” he said. “I wrote those I saw die. And I said I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger. I’m sorry you couldn’t feel my touch. But you were not alone.
Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake and news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.
This story was originally published November 25, 2022 00:43.