At least six people were shot dead Tuesday night inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, in an attack that happened within an hour of the store’s scheduled closing time, city officials said early Wednesday.
dead shooter, city officials said.
Investigators swept the store overnight into Wednesday looking for victims or people who may have been hiding, Chesapeake Police spokesman Leo Kosinski told CNN earlier. Police previously reported injured people.
Investigatorsbelieve the shooter was an employee or former employee of the store who shot another employee in the break room, law enforcement sources told CNN.
Officials believe that the shooter at some point turned the gun on himself, according to sources.
Officers responded to the Walmart around 10:12 p.m. — less than an hour before closing — and found the victim and evidence of the shooting, Kosinski said.
Five patients were treated at Sentara General Hospital in nearby Norfolk, Virginia, a Sentara Healthcare spokeswoman told CNN affiliate WTKR. An update on his condition was not immediately available.
A news conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Chesapeake city officials said Twitter.
The shooting, which came two days before Thanksgiving as customers were doing last-minute shopping, is another example of how gun violence has permeated American life in places traditionally considered safe, from schools to stores and even hospitals.
At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville — about 170 miles west of Chesapeake — a 22-year-old student allegedly shot fellow students this month, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, DC.
Last week, a 22-year-old shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, authorities said.
Tuesday’s shooting comes as the U.S. has recorded more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Archive and CNN tally the mass shooting as one involving at least four dead or wounded, not including the shooter.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN her mother, Betsy Umphlett, sent her a text from inside the store during the shooting, alerting her that someone had opened fire.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery told CNN. “I was just talking to him about buying a turkey for Thanksgiving, and then this text came.”
Jeffery said his mother was uninjured but in shock, and they have been reunited.
Chesapeake city officials are asking people to stay away from the store during the investigation.
“Our first responders are trained and ready to respond; please give them space to do so,” the city said in a tweet.
A reunification center is being built at the Chesapeake Conference Center, city officials said. They asked that only the immediate family and emergency contacts of those in the store go to the center.
In a statement, Walmart said it was shocked at the tragedy that occurred at one of its stores.
“We are praying for those affected, the community and our colleagues. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our partners,” the company said in the statement.
The Washington, DC, field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is assisting local police in the investigation, the bureau said on Twitter.