By Eduardo Medina and Mike Ives
Thursday November 24, 2022
An assailant opened fire inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., on Tuesday night and was later found dead at the store, the authorities said.CreditCredit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times
Six people were shot and killed inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., on Tuesday night, the authorities said, shattering the routine of residents who were picking up supplies for Thanksgiving during a busy holiday week.The assailant in the Virginia shooting, whose name the authorities did not release, was found dead at the store, Leo Kosinski, a spokesman with the Chesapeake Police Department, said in a brief news conference.
It was the second high-profile mass shooting in the United States in three days, after five people were killed at an L.G.B.T. Q. club in Colorado Springs over the weekend.
Mr. Kosinski did not say exactly how many people had been fatally shot, but he said he believed it was “less than 10.” The city of Chesapeake later said on Twitter that seven people had died, including the attacker. It was unclear how many people were wounded.
The police department responded to a report of a shooting inside the Walmart at about 10:12 p.m., Mr. Kosinski said, about 45 minutes before the store was scheduled to close. He added that officers who entered the store found “multiple fatalities and multiple injured” people.
WAVY TV, a local television station, reported that five victims from the shooting were being treated at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Representatives for the hospital did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Kosinski told reporters that investigators did not know whether the attacker was an employee or how the person had died. He added that he did not believe any shots had been fired by police officers.
“I mean, it’s sad, you know we’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday,” Mr. Kosinski said.
The city of Chesapeake said on Twitter that another news conference would be held at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.
Terri Brown, who lives nearby and shopped at the Walmart earlier on Tuesday evening, told a local television station that the store had seemed especially busy before she left it, about 20 or 30 minutes before 9 p.m. The holiday-shopping crowds had forced her to park far away, she said, and she saw long lines at checkout counters.
“People were being very friendly, talking about Thanksgiving — what they had to do, what they had to get,” Ms. Brown said in an interview with the ABC affiliate 13News Now.
In a statement early Wednesday morning, Walmart said, “We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia, store.”
“We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates,” the company said. “We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
It was another act of violence against civilians in the United States this month. In a shooting in Colorado Springs over the weekend, five people were killed at an L.G.B.T.Q. club. A week earlier, three members of the University of Virginia football team were killed in Charlottesville, Va., by a former football player who opened fire in a garage, the authorities said.
The Walmart shooting was one of several attacks at American grocery stores and big-box retail outlets in recent years. In 2019, a 21-year-old gunman stalked shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, leaving 23 people dead and 26 others wounded. And in May, a teenage gunman in Buffalo opened fire at a Tops supermarket, killing 10 people and injuring three more.
The Walmart supercenter where the shooting occurred is one of several in southeastern Virginia. It includes a grocery store, a pharmacy, a bank, a bakery and a deli. Mr. Kosinski told reporters that the Walmart was “very, very large,” although he did not know the square footage.
After the shooting, photos and video from outside the Walmart showed officers huddling around the entrance of the building on Sam’s Circle, with numerous police vehicles in the large parking lot of the store, which is off Battlefield Boulevard. A large inflatable Santa Claus stood outside the store.
Mr. Kosinski said that officers were searching for more victims inside the Walmart shortly after midnight on Wednesday. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said on Twitter that its officers were on their way to Chesapeake to assist the investigation.
Mr. Kosinski said the large store “had a lot of hiding spots” for shoppers who had possibly sought cover during the shooting.
“People could get scared, they could be hiding,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone is accounted for.”
The authorities directed relatives of people affected by the shooting to the Chesapeake Conference Center. Local television stations reported that a chaplain would be there.
Chesapeake, a few miles south of Norfolk, had a population of about a quarter of a million people last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is near Virginia’s Atlantic coast and the border with North Carolina.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat, said in a statement that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting.”
L. Louise Lucas, a Democratic Virginia state senator, said on Twitter that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district in Chesapeake.”
“I will not rest,” she said, “until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives.”
A correction was made on Nov. 23, 2022: An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of a United States senator from Virginia. He is Mark Warner, not Mike.
Eduardo Medina is a reporter covering breaking news. @byEduardoMedina