An employee had a gun to her forehead, others ran for their lives: Witnesses describe the Chesapeake Walmart shooting

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CNN

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

But shortly after that encounter began, Wilczewski found herself face-to-face with her team leader, who held a gun to her forehead after shooting her colleagues.

She managed to escape and return to her 15-month-old baby, but she told CNN the night — and the sound of blood falling to the floor — keeps repeating in her head.

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

According to a statement from Walmart, Bing was a “team leader” for the store’s night shift and had been with the company since 2010. According to police, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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

Five of the deceased victims were identified as Lorenzo Gamble by city officials; Brian Pendleton; Kelly Pyle; Randall Blevins; and Tyneka Johnson. The sixth deceased victim was a 16-year-old boy whom authorities are not naming because he was a minor, the city said. They were all Walmart employees, a company spokesperson told CNN.

Wilczewski told CNN she noticed the shooter shortly after 10 p.m. She listened to another squad leader speak before turning her head toward the doorway to see Bing standing with a gun pointed at the crowd — an image she said initially didn’t register as real.

But then she began to feel her chest tremble and her ears ring as a stream of gunfire erupted, she said. Wilczewski jumped under a table as the gunman walked down a nearby hallway.

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

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

“The sound of the drops (falling on the ground),” she said, “It repeats, and repeats, and repeats, and repeats.”

When he returned, Wilczewski said the gunman told her to come out from under the table. She obeyed, putting down her bag first to indicate she had no weapon, and raising her arms.

“I slipped out from under the table and I was shaking,” she said. “He just had the gun to my forehead.”

And then he told her to go home, pull the gun away and point it at the ceiling.

“I got up really slowly and I tried not to look at everyone on the floor… and I had to touch the door that was covered (in blood) and I walked out the double doors where you can see the Walmart aisles and… I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back then he’s going to have to try really hard because I’m running away’, and I booked it,’ she said. “I booked it and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a breakdown.”

Briana Tyler was also a new employee at the store. She had clocked into work shortly after 10 p.m. when she saw Bing standing in the doorway.

“Everyone was just waiting to, you know, figure out where they were going for the night and then all of a sudden you hear ‘pa pa pa pa pa pa pa,” Tyler told CNN.

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

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

It was a horrifying 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 him shooting the gun and the smoke escaping,” Tyler said. “I watch the smoke come out of the gun barrel and my girlfriend bleeds from her neck.”

The gunman kept firing through the store, Tyler said, as everyone around her screamed. She too couldn’t believe what was happening until she saw injured friends lying on the ground and ran off.

“While I was running it was just running, no tripping, no falling, just running,” she said. “And I just knew I had to come home to my son and as soon as I got out I 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 victims killed and the gunman were found in the break room, while another was found in the front of the store, the city of Chesapeake said. Three others died in hospital, officials said, and while the city tries to determine the exact number of injuries — some of the victims may have taken themselves to hospitals — at least four people remained hospitalized Wednesday morning, two of them in critical condition, A Sentara Norfolk General Hospital official said so.

Chesapeake Police Officer Leo Kosinski

Hear from the Chesapeake Police Department 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 gunman) just came in and started covering people there. Started firing, mate. … As soon as I left the break room, he went in there, man. By the grace of God, yo,” Harper says, acknowledging his fortune in not getting hurt or worse.

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

“Then I started hearing him getting closer, so… I booked it. I’ve seen everyone running. I booked it too,” he said. “I rose from there.”

Flowers and balloons were placed at the scene of the shooting on Wednesday.

As he records, a woman in the background is heard telling him that she played dead during the attack. Others join the discussion and share information about the dead.

“He killed the girl in there and everything,” says Harper. “He came in there and just started spraying and shit. … I am sorry for the victims.”

The city said the shooter was armed with a handgun and several 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 Tuesday night’s outcome and wonders why the gunman let her go.

“It really bothers me a lot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” she told CNN. “Because I could have sworn I was a goner.”

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

“I want to let you know I could have run out that door with anyone running out that door and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their last moments,” she said. “I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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