CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The Walmart supervisor who shot dead six employees in Virginia appeared to target people and fire at some victims after they were already hit and appeared dead, said a witness who was at the shooting present was started.
Jessica Wilczewski said workers were gathered in a break room at a store to begin their night shift late Tuesday when team leader Andre Bing stepped in and opened fire with a pistol. While another witness described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she saw him attack certain individuals.
“The way he acted — he went hunting,” Wilczewski told The Associated Press on Thursday.
She said she saw him shooting at people who were already on the ground.
“What I do know is that he made sure whoever he wanted dead was dead,” she said. “He went back and shot bodies that were already dead. Play it safe.”
Wilczewski said she only worked at the store for five days and doesn’t know who Bing is communicating with or having problems. She said being a new employee may have been the reason she was spared.
She said that after the shooting started, a colleague who was sitting next to her pulled her under the table to hide. She said that at one point Bing told her to come out from under the table. But when he saw who she was, he said to her, “Jessie, go home.” She said she got up slowly and then ran out of the store.
Police try to determine a motive while former colleagues struggle to understand the killing spree in Chesapeake, a town of about 250,000 near the Virginia coast.
Some who have worked with Bing, 31, said he has a reputation for being an aggressive if not hostile boss who once admitted to having “anger issues”. But he could also make people laugh and seemed to be able to cope with the typical work pressures that many people face.
“I don’t think he had a lot of people to draw on in his personal life,” said Nathan Sinclair, who worked at Walmart for almost a year before leaving earlier this month.
In conversations between colleagues, we said: ‘The work consumes my life.’ And (Bing) would be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t have a social life anyway,'” Sinclair recalled Thursday.
Sinclair said he and Bing didn’t get along. Bing is known for being “verbally hostile” toward employees and isn’t particularly popular, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was ridiculed and not necessarily treated fairly.
“You can’t tell what he might have been thinking. … You never know when someone really doesn’t have a support group,” Sinclair said.
All in all, Bing seemed pretty normal to Janice Strausburg, who knew him from his 13-year stint at Walmart before he left in June.
Bing could be “grumpy” but also “peaceful,” she said. He made people laugh and told Strausburg he liked to dance. When she invited him to church, he declined, but mentioned that his mother had been a preacher.
Strausburg thought 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 “getting the managers in trouble.”
She had never expected that.
“I think he had mental health issues,” Strausburg said on Thursday. “What else could it be?”
Tuesday night’s violence in Chesapeake was the nation’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days. Bing was dead when officers reached the store in the state’s second-largest city. Authorities said he appeared to have shot himself.
Police have identified the victims as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kelly Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth. Also among the dead was a 16-year-old boy, whose name was not released due to his age, police said.
A Walmart spokesman confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.
Krystal Kawabata, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia field office, confirmed that the agency is assisting the police with the investigation, but directed all inquiries to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigative agency.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, said Bing appeared to have fired indiscriminately.
“He just shot all over the room. It didn’t matter who he met,” Tyler told the AP on Wednesday.
Six people were injured in the shooting, which took place just after 10 p.m. as shoppers stocked up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said they believe around 50 people were inside the store at the time.
Bing was identified as the night team leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had a handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Tyler said the night stocking team of 15 to 20 people just gathered in the break room to go through the morning schedule. Another team leader had started speaking when Bing entered the room and opened fire, Tyler and Wiczewski said.
Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just the night before, said she’s never had a negative encounter with him, but others have told her he’s “the manager to watch out for.” She said Bing has texted people for no reason in the past.
The attack was the second major shooting in Virginia that month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a bus on November 13 while returning from a field trip. Two other students were injured.
The Walmart shooting also comes days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado – killing five and wounding 17. Tuesday night’s shooting brought back memories of another attack on a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman killed 23 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 on Wednesday.
“I wrote a letter and wanted to publish it,” she said. “I wrote to those I saw die. And I said I’m sorry I wasn’t louder. I’m sorry you couldn’t feel my touch. But you weren’t alone.”
Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake and news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.