'Didn't say a word': Walmart employees speak out after mass shooting

Thursday, November 24, 2022

When Briana Tyler went to work on Tuesday night, what she thought would be a quiet shift quickly ended in bloodshed.

Tyler, an employee at the Walmart on Sam's Circle in Chesapeake, Virginia, said she and her coworkers were gathered in the break room at the start of their shifts at around 10 p.m. local time, discussing which section of the store each employee would be working in that night.

"As soon as my team said, 'All right, we have a light night tonight,' I looked up and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire," Tyler recalled during an interview with ABC News on Wednesday. "He wasn't aiming at anybody specifically. He just literally started shooting throughout the entire break room and I watched multiple people just drop down to the floor, whether they were trying to duck for cover or they were hit."

Tyler said the gunman looked "directly at" her and fired but "luckily missed" her head by "an inch or two."

"He didn't say a word, he didn't say anything at all," she noted. "I literally hadn't even seen him before that point. He just came around the corner and started shooting. The first person that was in his eyesight, he shot him down and the next thing you know, he just started rigging throughout the entire break room but he did not say a word."

At least six people were killed and four others were injured before the suspect -- wielding a pistol -- shot himself dead, according to the Chesapeake Police Department, which is waiting to release the suspect's identity until his next of kin has been notified.

Police received the initial 911 call at 10:12 p.m. local time and officers responded to the scene within two minutes. They entered the Walmart at 10:16 p.m. local time, where they found multiple gunshot victims as well as the suspect dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The scene was declared safe by 11:20 p.m. local time, according to police.

Police said the suspect was believed to be a current employee at the store.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that preliminary information indicates the suspect was an employee and possibly a manager. Authorities are investigating whether the shooting was a case of workplace violence, the sources said.

Tyler told ABC News that she had heard from other employees when she first started working at the Walmart about two months ago that "he was the manager to look out for because there was always something going on with him, just having an issue with someone."

"But I never expected it to get to this level of an issue, like I don't know of anything that had happened recently," she said. "He was the manager that everybody, you know, had something to say about. [But] I would've never thought he would do something like this."

Another employee, Kevin Harper, told ABC News that he went to sit in the break room after arriving early for his Tuesday night shift but something didn't feel right -- so he left. Moments later, he said he heard around three or four muffled gunshots and ran into a clothes hanger to hide.

"I couldn't tell you how long I hid in there," Harper said. "Time just stopped at that moment."

Harper recalled running as fast as he could out of the store's employee entrance. On his way out, he said he saw two people on the floor, including a woman covered in blood.

"I'm just praying for my Walmart family," he added.

According to Harper, the manager who allegedly opened fire at coworkers was known for nitpicking the work of a certain employee. Harper said he never had any problems with the manager in question but that others did and complained about him.

Chesapeake resident Terri Brown said she was shopping at the Walmart earlier that night before gunshots rang out.

"There are no words," Brown told Hampton ABC affiliate WVEC on Tuesday night. "To see this unfold, to be a part of this, to know that this crime occurred so close to me and I was literally in that store. It's terrifying."

A Walmart spokesperson said in a statement early Wednesday that the company was "shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store."

"We're praying for those impacted, the community and our associates," the spokesperson added. "We're working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates."

During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky described the shooting as "senseless violence."

"This investigation is still ongoing, so there's no clear motive at this time," Solesky told reporters. "We'll be processing that scene for days."

Chesapeake Mayor Rick West, who tested positive for COVID-19 and could not attend Wednesday's press conference, issued a statement saying he was "devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city."

"My prayers are with all those affected -- the victims, their family, their friends and their coworkers," West said. "I am grateful for the quick actions taken by our first responders who rushed to the scene. Chesapeake is a tight-knit community and we are all shaken by this news. Together, we will support each other throughout this time. Please keep us in your prayers."

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement early Wednesday that he remains "in contact with law enforcement officials" and has "made available any resources as this investigation moves forward."

"Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning," Youngkin added. "Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities."

ABC News' Luke Barr, Ike Ejiochi, Aaron Katersky, Josh Margolin, Lauren Minore, Beatrice Peterson and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.

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