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The gunman who allegedly killed six victims in a mass shooting inside a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, before turning the gun on himself has now been identified as a disgruntled male store employee.
The suspect, who has not been named, is accused of opening fire on colleagues inside the break room of the store on Sam’s Circle at around 10pm on Tuesday night.
Six victims were killed in the massacre before the assailant shot and killed himself with his own pistol, police said.
Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday morning that the suspect is a store worker but would not reveal his identity because his next of kin is yet to be notified.
The victims’ identities have also not been released with officials declining to confirm whether any of those killed also worked at the Walmart store.
It is also currently unclear whether or not the gunman “targeted” his victims or carried out the shooting at random, with the motive for the attack unknown.
Law enforcement received the first 911 call about the shooting at 10.12pm on Tuesday, Chief Solesky said.
The first officers arrived on the scene two minutes later at 10.14pm and entered the store two minutes after that at around 10.16pm.
Officers found the suspect dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds and declared the scene safe, said Chief Solesky.
Six victims were killed in the attack while several more were rushed to hospital.
As of Wednesday morning, four victims are still being treated in local hospitals. Their conditions are currently unknown.
Earlier, authorities said that five victims had been taken to hospital following the attack. It is not clear what led to the change in numbers – whether this was a mistake, whether one of the five died from their injuries or if they have since been discharged.
Police said that the attacker used a pistol in the attack but released no further details about the murder weapon – including the exact make and model and whether or not it was legally purchased and registered to the suspect.
“We are truly saddened that the tragedy that took place in our community last night,” said Chief Solesky, adding that officials are “praying for the friends, families and coworkers” affected by this “senseless violence”.
Prior to Tuesday’s attack, police said that the suspect does not appear to have been on the radar of law enforcement.
Following a search of his home, Chief Solesky said that there is “no ongoing risk to the public”.
A law enforcement source told CNN that the shooting unfolded within the break room when the suspect started opening fire on his coworkers.
Kevin Harper, a man who identified himself as a store worker, posted a Facebook Live from outside the store on Tuesday night, where he claimed he had just left the break room when “one of the managers” entered “and just started spraying”.
In the video, he claimed he had a near miss with the shooter as he had just left the break room when gunfire erupted.
“I’d just left out of the break room, manager come up in there, started capping people up in there, started shooting, bro. The manager came in, started dumping, man. As soon as I left out the break room he went in there, man… that s*** wild,” he says in the video.
Mr Harper claims it was “one of the managers” and that other “associates” died in the attack.
“It’s wild, though, it was the manager, one of the managers,” he says.
“Blew people’s brains out and everything… He came in and just started spraying and s***,” he adds.
“Sadly, though, we lost a few of our associates, I don’t know how many.”
One of the surviving victims was identified by his family as a longtime Walmart employee who was shot just minutes after he had started his shift.
The victim, identified as a man in his 50s who had worked at the store for around 20 years, had clocked in for his shift at 10am, his sister Deborah told local outlet WAVY.
Deborah said that she had spoken to her brother on a family Zoom call as he was arriving at the store – as part of a Thanksgiving tradition.
She then received a call from him at around 10.18pm where he told her he had been shot and was being treated by police on the scene.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have joined the investigation including Virginia Beach Police, the Chesapeake Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Washington.
It comes just days before Thanksgiving when shoppers were likely stocking up on goods ahead of the holiday season.
Walmart released a statement early on Wednesday saying that it was “shocked” by the event inside one of their stores.
“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.”
Several Virginia lawmakers also released statements condemning the violence.
Governor Glenn Youngkin condemned what he described as a “heinous act of violence” in a statement early on Wednesday morning.
“Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning,” he said.
“I remain in contact with law enforcement officials throughout this morning and have made available any resources as this investigation moves forward. Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”
Virginia state senator Louise Lucas said she was “absolutely heartbroken” that the mass shooting took place in her district of Chesapeake.
“I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” she added.
Senator Mark Warner said he was “sickened” by the reports of the mass shooting and will be “monitoring the developments closely”.
“Sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake,” Mr Warner said in a tweet. “In the meantime, I urge all those in the community to listen to guidance from local law enforcement and stay away from the scene.”
The massacre marks just the latest mass shooting to rock America in recent weeks, after a gunman opened fire inside an LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night.
Five people were killed and 17 others injured when suspected gunman Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire inside Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.
The massacre came to an end when heroic clubgoers tackled the shooter to the ground and detained him until police arrived on the scene.
The five victims killed in that attack were identified as Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Vance.
This came after another mass shooting in the state of Virginia on 13 November, when three star football players from the University of Virginia were shot and killed as they returned to campus from a field trip.
Fellow student and former football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, allegedly opened fire on the bus.
Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed in the attack, while two other were injured but survived.
Mr Jones was arrested the following day and charged with murder and other charges.
Back in 2019, a Walmart store was also the site of another horror mass shooting.
A total of 23 people were killed in a mass shooting in a store in the city of El Paso, Texas.
Gunman who killed six in Walmart shooting in Chesapeake shooting identified as disgruntled worker
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