One employee held gun to forehead, others ran for their lives: Witnesses describe Chesapeake Walmart shooting


Although Jessie Wilczewski had only been working at the Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart for a few days, her Tuesday night shift started like any other with a routine team meeting in the break room.

But moments after the meeting began, Wilczewski came face-to-face with her team leader, who held a gun to her forehead after shooting her colleagues.

She managed to escape and get home to her 15-month-old, but she told CNN that the night — and the sound of blood hitting the floor — continues to replay in her head.

Six of her co-workers — including a teenager — were killed in the massacre after the gunman, identified by Chesapeake city officials as 31-year-old Andre Bing, began firing indiscriminately into the room where employees were gathered for a meeting .

According to a statement from Walmart, Bing was a “team leader” for the store’s night shift and had been employed by the company since 2010. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It’s terrible because it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop playing when you leave the stage, it doesn’t stop hurting so much, it doesn’t stop,” Wilczewski told CNN’s Erica Hill Wednesday night after recounting the terrible experience.

Five of the deceased victims were identified by city officials as Lorenzo Gamble; Brian Pendleton; Kellie Pyle; Randall Blevins; and Tyneka Johnson. The sixth deceased victim was a 16-year-old boy, who authorities are not naming because he was a minor, the city said. They were all Walmart employees, a company spokesman told CNN.

Wilczewski told CNN she noticed the shooter shortly after 1 p.m. 10 p.m. She listened to another team leader speak before turning her head towards the doorway and seeing Bing standing with a gun aimed at the crowd – an image she says did not initially register as real.

But then she began to feel her chest vibrate and her ears ring as a barrage of gunfire erupted, she said. Wilczewski jumped under a table as the gunman walked down a nearby hallway.

“I didn’t want to be loud, I didn’t want him to hear me and piss him off and make him come back,” Wilczewski told CNN.

Around her, some colleagues were on the floor, while others were lying on chairs – all silent. She said she knew many were probably not alive, but Wilczewski stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.

“The sound of the drops (hitting the floor),” she said, “it replays, and replays, and replays, and replays.”

When he returned, Wilczewski said the gunman told her to get out from under the table. She obeyed, putting her bag out first to indicate she didn’t have a weapon and raising her arms.

“I slipped out from under the table and I was shaking,” she said. “He just had the gun up to my forehead.”

And then he told her to go home, pulled the gun away and pointed it at the ceiling.

“I got up very slowly and I tried not to look at everybody on the ground … and I had to touch the door that was covered (in blood) and I walked out the double doors where you can see the aisles of Walmart and … I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back, he’s going to have to try really hard because I’m running,’ and I booked it,” she said. I booked it and I didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a meltdown.”

Briana Tyler was also a new employee at the store. She had clocked in for work shortly after 10pm when she saw Bing standing in the doorway.

“Everybody was just waiting, you know, to find out where they were going for the night, and then all of a sudden you just hear ‘pa pa pa pa pa pa,'” Tyler told CNN.

After he started shooting, Bing didn’t speak or point the gun at anyone in particular, Tyler recalled.

“He just had a blank look on his face and he was literally just looking around the room shooting and there were people just falling to the floor,” Tyler said.

It was a horrifying sight that has been burned into her mind ever since.

“The two sights I can’t get out of my head are the sight of him shooting the gun and the smoke leaving,” Tyler said. “I see the smoke coming out of the barrel of the gun and my friend is bleeding from her neck.”

A forensic unit is responding to the scene at Walmart early Wednesday.

The gunman continued to shoot throughout the store, Tyler said, as everyone around her screamed. She too couldn’t believe what was happening until she saw injured friends on the ground and ran for it.

“When I ran, it was just run, don’t trip, don’t fall, just run,” she said. “And I just knew I had to get home to my son and as soon as I got outside I just called my mom.”

Donya Prioleau, who told CNN she had earlier heard Bing say “a lot of disturbing things,” was also in the break room when the gunman entered.

Bing went 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.

Two victims were killed and the shooter was found in the break room, while another was found in front of the store, the city of Chesapeake said. Three others died at the hospital, officials 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 The official said in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Chesapeake Police Public Information Officer Leo Kosinski

Hear from Chesapeake Police on what we know about Walmart shooting

Employee Kevin Harper narrowly missed an encounter with the gunman.

“I just left out the break room,” Harper says in a video posted to Facebook.

“(The robber) just came in there and started covering people in there. Started shooting, bro. … As soon as I left the break room, he went in there, man. By the grace of God, yo,” Harper says, acknowledging his fortune by not being injured or worse.

Harper thought it was nothing at first, but quickly realized something was wrong and fled, he says in 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 saw everybody running. I booked it too,” he said. “I got out of there.”

Flowers and balloons were placed near the scene of the shooting on Wednesday.

As he records, a woman is heard in the background telling him that she played dead during the attack. Others join the discussion and share information about those killed.

“He killed the girl in there and everything,” Harper says. “He got in there and just started spraying and sh**t. … I feel sorry for the victims.”

The city said the shooter was armed with a handgun and several magazines. Police worked Wednesday to find out more about the suspect’s background and identify a possible motive.

Wilczewski said she thinks about how else she could have helped, how she could have changed Tuesday night’s outcome and wonders why the shooter let her go.

“It bothers me really, really bad. I don’t know why he did what he did,” she told CNN. “Because I could have sworn I was a goner.”

She also shared a message for the families of the two female victims, though she did not name them.

“I want to tell you that I could have run out of that door with everyone else who ran out of that door and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their last moments,” she said. I stayed just so they wouldn’t be alone.”

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