CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six colleagues in Virginia appeared to have targeted people and shot some victims after they had already been hit and appeared dead, said a witness who was present when the shooting began.
Jessica Wilczewski said workers had gathered in a store break room to begin their night shift late Tuesday when team leader Andre Bing entered and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she saw him shoot at certain people.
“The way he acted — he went hunting,” Wilczewski told The The US Express News on Thursday. “The way he looked at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he picked people out.”
She said she saw him shooting at people already on the ground.
“What I do know is that he made sure whoever he wanted dead was dead,” she said. “He went back and shot dead bodies that were already dead. To be sure.”
Wilczewski said she had only worked at the store for five days and didn’t know who Bing got along with or had problems with. She said that being a new employee may have been the reason she was spared.
She said that after the shooting started, a colleague sitting next to her pulled her under the table to hide. She said that at one point Bing told her to get out from under the table. But when he saw who she was, he told her, “Jessie, go home.” She said she got up slowly and then ran out of the store.
Police scramble to determine a motive, while former colleagues struggle to make sense of the rampage in Chesapeake, a town of about 250,000 near the Virginia coast.
Some who worked with Bing, 31, said he had a reputation for being an aggressive, if not hostile, supervisor, once admitting he had “anger issues.” But he could also make people laugh and seemed to deal with the typical workplace stress that many people deal with.
“I don’t think he had a lot of people to fall back on in his personal life,” said Nathan Sinclair, who worked at Walmart for nearly a year before leaving earlier this month.
During chats between colleagues, “we’d be like ‘work is consuming my life’.” And (Bing) would be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t have a social life anyway,'” Sinclair recalled Thursday.
Sinclair said he and Bing didn’t get along. Bing was known to be “verbally hostile” to employees and was not particularly liked, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was made fun of and not necessarily treated fairly.
‘There’s no telling what he might have thought. … You never know if someone really doesn’t have a support group,” Sinclair said.
On balance, Bing seemed pretty normal to Janice Strausburg, who knew him from 13 years of working at Walmart before leaving in June.
Bing can be “grumpy” but also “quiet,” she said. He made people laugh and told Strausburg that he loved to dance. When she invited him to church, he declined, saying his mother had been a minister.
Strausburg thought Bing’s cantankerousness was due to the stress that comes with any job. He also once told her that he “had anger issues” and complained that he would “get the managers in trouble”.
She never expected this.
“I think he had mental problems,” Strausburg said Thursday. “What else could it be?”
Tuesday night’s violence in Chesapeake was the country’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days. Bing was dead when officers reached the store in the state’s second-largest city. According to authorities, he apparently shot himself.
Police have identified the victims as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kelly Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gambling, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, who were all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, from nearby Portsmouth. The dead also included a 16-year-old boy whose name has not been released due to his age, police said.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.
Krystal Kawabata, a spokesman for the FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia, field office, confirmed that the agency is assisting police with the investigation, but forwarded all investigations to the Chesapeake Police Department, the lead investigative agency.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, has said that Bing appeared to fire randomly.
“He just shot all over the room. It didn’t matter who he hit,” Tyler told the TUSEN on Wednesday.
Six people were also injured in the shooting, which occurred just after 10 p.m. as shoppers approached Thanksgiving. According to police, there were about 50 people in the store at the time.
Bing was identified as a nighttime team leader who had worked at Walmart since 2010. Police said he had a handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Tyler said the overnight storage team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go through the morning plan. Another squad leader started talking when Bing entered the room and opened fire, Tyler and Wiczewski said.
Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had only worked with Bing the night before, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “the manager to watch out for.” She said Bing had a history of writing people up for no reason.
The attack was the second major shooting in Virginia this month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on November 13 on a bus as they returned from a field trip. Two other students were injured.
The Walmart shooting also comes days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado — killing five and injuring 17. in El Paso, Texas.
Wilczewski, who survived Tuesday’s shooting in Virginia, said she tried but couldn’t bring herself to visit a memorial in the store’s parking lot on Wednesday.
“I wrote a letter and I wanted to put it there,” she said. “I wrote to those I saw die. And I said I’m sorry I wasn’t louder. I’m sorry you couldn’t feel my touch. But you weren’t alone.”
The US Express News writers Denise Lavoie in Chesapeake and news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.