A shooter opened fire in a Walmart in Virginia, leaving six people dead, police said, in the country's second high-profile mass killing in a handful of days. The assailant is also dead.
The store in Chesapeake was busy just before the shooting Tuesday night with people stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, a shopper told a local TV station.
In addition to the six killed, four were injured.
Police Chief Mark Solesky said the shooter was a Walmart employee. The chief said the shooter used a pistol during the shooting.
The unidentified shooter likely died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, he said.
Officer Leo Kosinski couldn’t say how the shooter died but said that he didn’t believe police fired shots. It was not clear who the shooter was or what their motive might be.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement posted on the city's Twitter account Wednesday. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
Joetta Jeffery told CNN she received text messages from her mother who was inside the store during the shooting. Her mother, Betsy Umphlett, was not injured.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery said. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows this year has been especially bad. The U.S. has now had 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.
The attack at the Walmart came three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17. Earlier in the year, the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 when a gunman stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Tuesday’s shooting also brought back memories of another at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, and killed 22 people.
The shooting had apparently stopped when police arrived at the store in Chesapeake, which is Virginia’s second-largest city and lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Walmart tweeted early Wednesday that it was “shocked at this tragic event.”
President Joe Biden reacted to the shooting in a statement.
"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of our most cherished holidays that brings us together as Americans and as families, when we hug our loved ones and count our blessings," Biden said. "But because of yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving. There are now more families who know the worst kind of loss and pain imaginable.
"Jill and I grieve for those families, for the Chesapeake community, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which just suffered a terrible shooting at the University of Virginia this month. We also mourn for all those across America who have lost loved ones to these tragic shootings that we must come together as a nation to stand against."
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”
State Sen. Louise Lucas echoed Warner's sentiment, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district."