A gunman opened fire at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, late Tuesday, killing six people and wounding at least five others, authorities said, in the latest incident in a wave of gun violence across the nation.
The Chesapeake Police Department responded to a report of the shooting at about 10:15 pm ET and immediately found evidence of the carnage, Officer Leo Kosinski said in a news briefing.
Over 35 to 40 minutes, rescue and tactical teams swept through the store providing life-saving measures, he said. Police believe there was one shooter, who is dead, Kosinski said, adding that authorities believe the shooting stopped when the police arrived.
Mike Kafka, a spokesperson for Sentara Healthcare, said five patients from Walmart are being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions were not immediately available. Mayor Rick W. West, in a statement posted on Twitter, praised the efforts of first responders.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city,” West said. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
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The shooting in Chesapeake is the latest incident to rock the country, coming days after a massacre in a well-known LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where five people were killed. Earlier this month, three University of Virginia football players were killed and two other people hospitalized following a campus shooting – the same day four University of Idaho four students were found dead with multiple stab wounds.
A database run by USA TODAY, The Associated Press and Northeastern University that tracks mass killings since 2006 counts 40 mass killings so far this year, second to the 45 that occurred for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.
In Chesapeake, police tweeted that a family reunification site had been set up at the Chesapeake Conference Center. Among those gathered outside early Wednesday was Camille Buggs, a former Walmart employee who told the Virginian-Pilot she hoped to learn the fate of some of her former coworkers she had not been able to reach after the shooting.
“You always say you don’t think it would happen in your town, in your neighborhood, in your store, in your favorite store,” Buggs, 58, of Chesapeake told the outlet. “That’s the thing that has shocked me.”
Stunned employees also gathered at the nearby Sam’s Club, where attendance was taken, WAVY-TV reported. Police said all employees had been accounted for.
Authorities asked the public to stay clear of the scene. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was assisting with the investigation.
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Chesapeake is about 100 miles southeast of Richmond. Sen. Mark Warner tweeted 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 she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district.”
A Walmart in El Paso, Texas was the scene of one of the nation’s bloodiest attacks in 2019, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans killed 22 people.
Walmart released a statement on Twitter early Wednesday: “We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store. 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. “
Contributing: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; The Associated Press