CHESAPEAKE — Details are beginning to emerge about Walmart employee Andre Bing, who police said opened fire Tuesday night inside a Chesapeake Walmart store, killing six people before he shot and killed himself.
Walmart confirmed Bing, 31, was an overnight team lead, and had worked for the company since 2010.
Current and former employees described Bing as having tense relationships with many coworkers.
Janis Strausburg, 48, of Chesapeake, worked maintenance at the Walmart until June and said she and Bing used to talk frequently. She said Bing loved to dance and she even invited him to attend church with her at one point, before they had a falling out when he began to “gossip” about her, which was common for him.
“He was always grumpy, always talking about calling and getting the managers in trouble, that he got the human resources phone number and that he will tell on them in a heartbeat and get the store in trouble,” Strausburg said, though she couldn’t remember what he intended to get the managers in trouble for. “He was always negative.”
Strausburg is now a Lyft driver and was dropping someone off at the Walmart as police began to arrive shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
She said the shooting coincided with a shift change, during which several employees would be meeting in the breakroom or in the back hallway area. The breakroom area also is where employees would clock in and out, according to Strausburg.
Employee Briana Tyler said the overnight stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the breakroom to go over the morning plan. She said as the meeting was about to start, a team leader said, “All right guys, we have a light night ahead of us” — when Bing turned around and opened fire on the staff.
“It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me,” Tyler said. “I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.”
At first, Tyler didn’t think the shooting was real.
“It was all happening so fast,” she said. “I thought it was like a test type of thing. Like, if you do have an active shooter, this is how you respond.”
Tyler, who worked with Bing just the night before, said he did not aim at anyone specific.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any specific type of way.”
Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago, said she never had a negative encounter with Bing, but others told her he was “the manager to look out for.” She said Bing had a history of writing people up for no reason.
“He just liked to pick, honestly. I think he just looked for little things to go about, because he had the authority. That’s just the type of person that he was. That’s what a lot of people said about him,” she said.
Three victims and Bing died at the scene, and three others were transported to local hospitals, where they later succumbed to injuries. Three others were shot and remained hospitalized Wednesday; four people sustained injuries not related to the gunfire and had been released from hospitals Wednesday.
Bing was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound when police arrived. He had one handgun and “several” magazines with him, and was dressed in civilian clothing without any type of body armor or ballistic vest, according to Chesapeake police. At least 50 people were believed to have been inside the store, which was open at the time of the shooting, police said.
Chesapeake’s S.W.A.T. team executed a search warrant at Bing’s home, and they along with Virginia State Police cleared the residence. Investigators are “actively working to learn more about the suspect’s background and what may have motivated the shooting,” police said.
ATF agents were at Bing’s two-story, tan-colored house in the Eva Gardens section of Crestwood. The house’s front and storm doors had been smashed in.
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The neighborhood was quiet except for the occasional rustle of the wind through the trees and the hum from nearby traffic on I-464. One man living nearby said he did not know Bing; others declined to speak with reporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gavin Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org