[Breaking news update, published at 8:21 a.m. ET]
The shooter who killed six people at a Walmart in Virginia on Tuesday night was a store employee, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said Wednesday. Solesky said the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but his identity was not released because his next of kin was not informed.
[Previous story, published at 7:31 a.m. ET]
At least six people were shot and killed Tuesday night inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., in an attack that unfolded less than an hour after the store’s scheduled closing time, reports said. city officials on Wednesday.
The shooter is dead city officials said.
Investigators swept the store Wednesday night looking for victims or people who may have been hiding, Chesapeake police spokesman Leo Kosinski told CNN earlier. Police earlier reported injured people.
Investigators believe the shooter was an employee or former store employee who opened fire on other employees in a break room, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Officials believe the shooter at some point turned the gun on himself, the source said.
Officers responded to Walmart around 10:12 p.m. — less than an hour before closing — and found victims and evidence of a shooting, Kosinski said.
Five patients were being treated at Sentara General Hospital in nearby Norfolk, Va., a Sentara Healthcare spokesperson told CNN affiliate WTKR. An update on their terms was not immediately available.
A press conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Chesapeake city officials said. Twitter.
The shooting, which took place two days before Thanksgiving as customers shopped last minute, is another example of how gun violence is erupting in American life in places traditionally considered safe, from schools to stores. and 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 other students this month, killing three of them in a bus returning to campus after a trip to Washington, DC.
Last weekend, a 22-year-old man fatally shot five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, authorities said.
Tuesday’s shooting came as the United States has recorded more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. The archives and CNN tally a mass shooting as involving at least four dead or wounded, not including the shooter.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN her mother, Betsy Umphlett, texted her from inside the store during the shooting, warning her that someone had opened fire.
“I’m crying, I’m shaking,” Jeffery told CNN. “I was just talking to him about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came up.”
Jeffery said his mother was unhurt but in shock and they were reunited.
Chesapeake City officials asked people to stay away from the store during the investigation.
“Our first responders are well trained and prepared to respond; please give them space to do so,” the city said in a tweet.
A reunification center has been set up at the Chesapeake Conference Center, city officials said. They ask that only immediate family and emergency contacts of people who were in the store come to the center.
In a statement, Walmart said it was shocked by the tragedy that unfolded at one of its stores.
“We pray for those affected, the community and our associates. We work closely with law enforcement and are focused on supporting our associates,” the company said in the statement.
The local Washington, DC office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting local law enforcement with the investigation, the office said on Twitter.