The gunman who killed six people at a Walmart in Virginia on Tuesday night was an employee at the store, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Soleski said Wednesday.
Police believe the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Soleski said. But his identity has not been made known because his next of kin have not been notified.
The motive behind the massacre remains a mystery.
At least four people remain hospitalized Wednesday, the police chief said. Solesky said he did not know the patients’ conditions.
Investigators swept the store Wednesday night, looking for victims or people who might be hiding, Chesapeake police spokesman Leo Kosinski told CNN earlier.
Investigators believe the gunman opened fire on other workers in a break room, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Officers responded to the Walmart around 10:12 p.m. – less than an hour before closing.
The shooting, which occurred two days before Thanksgiving as shoppers did last-minute shopping, is yet another example of how gun violence is breaking out in American life in places traditionally considered safe, from schools to stores. , even hospitals.
At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville — which is about 170 miles west of Chesapeake — a 22-year-old student reportedly opened fire on fellow students this month, killing three of them on a bus returning to campus from a trip to Washington. DC.
Last weekend, a 22-year-old man 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. The archive and CNN estimate a mass shooting involving at least four dead or injured, not including the shooter.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN that her mother, Betsy Umphlett, was texting her from inside the store during the shooting, alerting her that someone had opened fire.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery told CNN. “I had just talked to her about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came.”
Jeffery said her mother is unharmed, but shocked, and they have been reunited.
Chesapeake city officials asked people to stay away from the store during the investigation.
“Our first responders are well trained and ready to respond. please give them space to do so,” the city said in a tweet.
A reunion center has been set up at the Chesapeake Convention Center, city officials said. They are asking only immediate family and emergency contacts for people who were in the store to go to the center.
In a statement, Walmart said it was shocked by the tragedy that unfolded at one of its stores.
“We are praying for those affected, the community and our partners. We are working closely with law enforcement and are focused on supporting our partners,” the company said in the statement.
The Washington, D.C., office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting local police in the investigation, the office said on Twitter.