The shooting erupted without warning, during a late-night shift change as some workers were congregating in a break room, witnesses said Wednesday of the shooting at a Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart that killed six people and injured at least four others.
Employee Kevin Harper described narrowly missing an encounter with the gunman – identified by Walmart as overnight team lead Andre Bing, who’d been with the company since 2010. He had exhibited odd and threatening behavior in the past, was gruff with other employees and expressed paranoid views about the government, coworkers told CNN.
Bing entered the break room shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
“I just left out the break room,” Harper says in a video posted to Facebook.
“(The gunman) just come in there, started capping people up in there. Started shooting, bro. … As soon as I left out the break room, he went in there, man. By the grace of God, yo,” Harper says, acknowledging his fortune in not being injured or worse.
Harper thought it was nothing at first but soon realized something was awry 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 seen everybody run. I booked it, too,” he said. “I got up out of there.”
Tthe gunman shot himself, Harper says, which lines up with a report from a law enforcement source who told CNN officials believe the shooter turned the gun on himself.
Briana Tyler was in the break room when the gunman walked in, she said in an ABC interview. She and other coworkers were congregating there before their shifts began, discussing where in the store they’d be working that night, she said.
“As soon as my team lead said, ‘All right, guys, we have a light night tonight,’ I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Tyler told the station. “He wasn’t aiming at anybody specifically. He just started shooting throughout the entire break room.”
The gunman said nothing before entering the break area, she said. He just walked in and opened fire.
“We were all just literally just getting to our shift. The night hadn’t even started yet,” she told ABC.
The gunman looked her way during the attack and opened fire, she said, “but luckily he missed my head by an inch or two.”
Donya Prioleau, who told CNN she’d 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 took off running. Half of us didn’t believe it was real until some of us saw all the blood on the floor,” she said.
Tyler, who said she began working at the store two months ago, described the gunman as a manager she’d been warned “to look out for because there was always something going on with him just having an issue with someone.”
She never expected anything like Tuesday’s shooting, she said, “but he was the manager that everybody had something to say about.”
In his Facebook video, Harper says he knew “a few” associates had been killed. As he records, a woman in the background is heard telling him she played dead during the attack. Others join in the discussion, sharing information on those killed.
“He killed the girl in there and everything,” Harper says. “He came in there and just started spraying and s**t. … I’m sorry for the victims.”
Two slain victims and the shooter were found in the break room, while another was found at the front of the story, the City of Chesapeake tweeted. Three others died at the hospital, the tweet said, and while the city is trying to determine the exact number of injuries – some victims may have taken themselves to hospitals – at least four people remained hospitalized early Wednesday, two of them in critical condition, a Sentara Norfolk General Hospital official said.
The victims’ names will not be released until next of kin are notified, authorities said.
While police have not released information on a motive, the city said the shooter was armed with a handgun and multiple magazines.
“We don’t know what made him do this,” Prioleau said.
She described Bing as condescending and “quite mean to a lot of us.” He had poor communication skills, she told CNN.
Shaundrayia Reese, who worked with Bing from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner who didn’t like to be recorded and always said the government was watching him.
“He didn’t like social media and he kept black tape on his phone camera. Everyone always thought something was wrong with him,” Reese said.
Hear from Chesapeake police on what we know about Walmart shooting
Bing threatened to write up maintenance workers who didn’t follow his orders, said Joshua Johnson, who worked in maintenance department at the store until 2019. Those weren’t the only threats he issued, Johnson said.
“He said if he ever got fired from his job he would retaliate and people would remember who he was,” he told CNN.
Neither Johnson nor Reese reported their concerns to management, they said.
Harper doesn’t need a motive to assess the character of the man who shot his colleagues, he says on the Facebook video.
“That man a coward for that,” he says. “You kill people ain’t did nothing to you. Man, you soft for that.”