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Employee held gun to forehead, others ran for their lives: Witnesses describe shooting at Chesapeake Walmart

Employee held gun to forehead, others ran for their lives: Witnesses describe shooting at Chesapeake Walmart



CNN

Although Jessie Wilczewski only worked at Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart few days, her Tuesday night shift began like any other, with a routine team meeting in the break room.

But moments after that meeting began, Wilczewski found herself face to face with her team leader, who was holding a gun to her forehead after he shot her colleagues.

She managed to escape and return home to her 15-month-old child, but told CNN that the night — and the sound of blood hitting the floor — keeps replaying in her head.

Six of her colleagues — including a teenager — were killed in the massacre after the gunman, identified by Chesapeake city officials as 31-year-old Andre Bing, began shooting indiscriminately into a room where employees had gathered for a meeting.

According to Walmart’s statement, Bing, was “team leader” for the shop’s night shift and has been employed by the company since 2010. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It’s terrible because it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop playing when you leave the scene, it doesn’t stop hurting, it doesn’t stop,” Wilczewski told CNN’s Erica Hill on Wednesday night after recounting the horrific experience.

Five dead victims were identified by city officials as Lorenzo Gamble; Brian Pendleton; Kellie Pyle; Randall Blevins; and Tyneka Johnson. The sixth deceased victim was a 16-year-old boy whose name the authorities are not releasing because he was a minor, the city said. All were Walmart employees, a company spokesman told CNN.

Wilczewski told CNN that she spotted the killer just after 10 p.m. She listened to another team leader speak before turning her head toward the door to see Bing standing with a gun pointed at the crowd — an image she says didn’t register as real at first.

But then she began to feel her chest vibrating and her ears ringing as a barrage of gunshots rang out, she said. Wilczewski jumped under the table as the attacker went down a nearby corridor.

“I didn’t want to be loud, I didn’t want him to hear me and make him angry and make him come back,” Wilczewski told CNN.

Around her, some co-workers were on the floor, while others were lying on chairs – all calm. She said she knew many were probably not alive, but Wilczewski stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.

“The sound of drops (hitting the floor),” she said, “repeats, and repeats, and repeats.”

When he returned, Wilczewski said the attacker told her to get out from under the table. She complied, bringing her bag out first to show she had no weapons, and raised her hands.

“I slid under the table and I was shaking,” she said. “He just put a gun to my forehead.”

And then he told her to go home, pulled a gun and pointed it at the ceiling.

“I got up real slow and I tried not to look at everything on the ground… and I had to touch the door that was covered in (blood) and I went out the double doors where you can see the aisles of Walmart and… I just remember being grabbed the bag and thought, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back, he’s going to have to work really hard because I’m running,’ and I booked it,” she said. “I booked it and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I broke down.”

Employee Jalon Jones, 24, also ran from the store to safety after being shot in the back. Jones’ mother, Kimberly Shupe, spoke with him CNN affiliate WTKR On Wednesday outside the hospital where her son was in intensive care.

Shupe said her son told her that what started as a normal day at work quickly changed when he saw the team leader’s gun and the bullet that hit Jones’ ear.

“That’s when he realized he was shot,” Shupe said. Jones made it to the store, and when he got there, he was shot again, she said.

“Then he got help from another female colleague who took him to her vehicle until the doctors arrived,” Šupe said.

Briana Tyler was also a new employee at the store. She was leaving for work shortly after 10pm when she saw Bing standing in the doorway.

“Everybody was just waiting to, you know, figure out where they were going overnight and then all of a sudden you just hear, ‘so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so,'” Tyler told CNN.

After he started shooting, Bing didn’t speak or point the gun at anyone in particular, Tyler recalled.

“He just had a blank look on his face and he just literally just looked around the room and just shot and people just fell to the floor,” Tyler said.

It was a horrible sight that has been etched in her mind ever since.

“The two visions I can’t get out of my head are the vision of the gun going off and the smoke going out,” Tyler said. “I’m watching the smoke leave the barrel of the gun and my friend is bleeding from her neck.”

The gunman continued to shoot throughout the store, Tyler said, as everyone around her screamed. She couldn’t believe what was happening either, until she saw her injured friends on the ground and ran away.

“When I was running, it was just run, don’t trip, don’t fall, just run,” she said. “And I just knew I had to get home to my son and as soon as I got outside, I just called my mom.”

Donya Prioleau, who told CNN she had heard Bing say “a lot of disturbing things” in the past, was also in the break room when the gunman entered.

Bing walked in and shot three of her friends “before I started running. “Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw all the blood on the floor,” she said.

Two slain victims and the shooter were found in a break room, while another was found outside the store, the city of Chesapeake said. Three others died in hospital, officials said.

At least six other people were taken to local hospitals for treatment, one of whom remained in critical condition Wednesday, city officials said. he said. Authorities were also working to determine if there were additional self-reported injuries.

Chesapeake Police Public Information Officer Leo Kosinski

Hear from Chesapeake Police what we know about the Walmart shooting

Employee Kevin Harper narrowly missed an encounter with the gunman.

“I just left out the break room,” Harper says in a video posted to Facebook.

“(The attacker) just walked in there, started locking people in there. Started shooting bro. … As soon as I got out of the break room, he walked in there, man. By the grace of God, yo,” Harper says, acknowledging his fortune in not being hurt or worse.

Harper thought it was nothing at first, but soon realized something was wrong and ran, he says in the video, which appears to have been taken in the store’s parking lot.

“Then I started hearing him getting closer so…I booked. I saw everyone running. I booked it too,” he said. “I got up from there.”

Flowers and balloons were placed near the scene of Wednesday's shooting.

As he records, a woman can be heard in the background telling him that she played dead during the attack. Others join the discussion, sharing information about those killed.

“He killed the girl inside and everything,” Harper says. “He went in there and started spraying sh**t. … I feel sorry for the victims.”

The city said the shooter was armed with a handgun and multiple magazines. Police were working Wednesday to learn more about the suspect’s background and identify a possible motive.

Wilczewski said she thinks about how she could have helped differently, how she could have changed the outcome of Tuesday night and wonders why the shooter let her go.

“It bothers me very, very badly. I don’t know why he did what he did,” she told CNN. “Because I could have sworn I disappeared.”

She also shared a message for the families of the two victims, although she did not name them.

“I want to let you know that I could have run out that door with everyone else who ran out that door and stayed. I stayed so that they would not be alone in their last moments,” she said. “I stayed, just so they wouldn’t be alone.”



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