Police: Walmart shooter bought gun just hours before killing
Ben Finley and Matthew Barakat, Associated Press
CHESAPEAKE, Virginia (AP) — The Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six co-workers in Virginia left behind what he called a “death note” on his phone that apologized for what he was about to do while simultaneously blaming others for mocking him.
“Sorry everyone but I did not plan this I promise things just fell in place like I was led by the Satan,” Andre Bing wrote on a note that was left on his phone, Chesapeake Police said Friday.
Police also said the gun, a 9 mm handgun, was legally purchased on the morning of the shooting and that Bing had no criminal record.
The note was redacted slightly to eliminate names of specific people he mentioned.
He claimed he was “harassed by idiots with low intelligence and a lack of wisdom” and said he was pushed to the brink by a perception his phone was hacked.
He wrote, “My only wish would have been to start over from scratch and that my parents would have paid closer attention to my social deficit.” Bing died at the scene of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Coworkers of Bing who survived the shooting said he was difficult and known for being hostile with employees. One survivor said Bing seemed to target people and fired at some victims after they were already hit and appeared to be dead, said a witness who was present when the shooting started.
Jessica Wilczewski said workers were gathered in a store break room to begin their overnight shift late Tuesday when Bing, a team leader, entered and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said she observed him target certain people.
“The way he was acting — he was going hunting,” Wilczewski told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The way he was looking at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he was picking people out.”
She said she observed him shoot at people who were already on the ground.
“What I do know is that he made sure who he wanted dead, was dead,” she said. “He went back and shot dead bodies that were already dead. To make sure.”
Wilczewski said she had only worked at the store for five days and didn’t know with whom Bing got along or had problems. She said being a new employee may have been the reason she was spared.
She said that after the shooting started, a co-worker 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 slowly got up and then ran out of the store.
Former coworkers and residents of Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 people near Virginia’s coast, have been struggling to make sense of the rampage.
Some who worked with Bing, 31, said he had a reputation for being an aggressive, if not hostile, supervisor, who once admitted to having “anger issues.” But he also could make people laugh and seemed to be dealing with the typical stresses at work that many people endure.
“I don’t think he had many people to fall back on in his personal life,” said Nathan Sinclair, who worked at the Walmart for nearly a year before leaving earlier this month.
During chats among coworkers, “We would 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 did not get along. Bing was known for being “verbally hostile” to employees and wasn’t particularly well-liked, Sinclair said. But there were times when Bing was made fun of and not necessarily treated fairly.
“There’s no telling what he could have been thinking. … You never know if somebody really doesn’t have any kind of support group,” Sinclair said.
On balance, Bing seemed pretty normal to Janice Strausburg, who knew him from working at Walmart for 13 years before leaving in June.
Bing could be “grumpy” but could also be “placid,” she said. He made people laugh and told Strausburg he liked dance. When she invited him to church, he declined but mentioned that his mother had been a preacher.
Strausburg thought Bing’s grumpiness was due to the stresses that come with any job. He also once told her that he had “had anger issues” and complained he was going to “get the managers in trouble.”
She never expected this.
“I think he had mental issues,” Strausburg said Thursday. “What else could it be?”
Tuesday night’s violence in Chesapeake was the nation’s second high-profile mass shooting in four days.
Police have identified the victims as Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Lorenzo Gamble, 43; and Randy Blevins, 70, who were all from Chesapeake; and Tyneka Johnson, 22, of nearby Portsmouth. The dead also included a 16-year-old boy whose name was withheld because of his age, police said.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed in an email that all of the victims worked for the company.
Another Walmart employee, Briana Tyler, has said Bing appeared to fire at random.
“He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit,” Tyler told the AP Wednesday.
Six people also were wounded in the shooting, which happened just after 10 p.m. as shoppers were stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said they believe about 50 people were in the store at the time.
Bing was identified as an overnight team leader who had been a Walmart employee since 2010. Police said he had one handgun and several magazines of ammunition.
Tyler said the overnight stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning plan. Another team leader had begun speaking when Bing entered the room and opened fire, Tyler and Wiczewski said.
Tyler, who started working at Walmart two months ago and had worked with Bing just a night earlier, said she never had a negative encounter with him, but others told her he was “the manager to look out for.” She said Bing had a history of writing up people for no reason.
The attack was the second major shooting in Virginia this month. Three University of Virginia football players were fatally shot on a bus Nov. 13 as they returned from a field trip. Two other students were wounded.
The Walmart shooting also comes days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado — killing five and wounding 17. Tuesday night’s shooting brought back memories of another attack at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman killed 23 at a store in El Paso, Texas.
Wilczewski, who survived Tuesday’s shooting in Virginia, said she tried but could not bring herself to visit a memorial in the store’s parking lot Wednesday.
“I wrote a letter and I wanted to put it out there,” she said. “I wrote to the ones I watched die. And I said that I’m sorry I wasn’t louder. I’m sorry you couldn’t feel my touch. But you weren’t alone.”