The Independent

First victim of massacre at Walmart in US identified

- RACHEL SHARP

The first victim killed in the mass shooting at a Walmart in the US state of Virginia has been identified as a 21-year-old worker at the supermarke­t, after her family issued a desperate appeal to find her in the aftermath of the attack.

Tyneka Johnson died when a co-worker opened fire inside the branch in Chesapeake just after 10pm on Tuesday night. In a

heartbreak­ing Facebook post yesterday, Johnson’s family begged for help in finding out what had happened to her. “We need help locating my lil cousin. She is an employee at Walmart,” wrote a desperate family member. “Everyone need to know if she is safe. This post is about helping and locating Tyneka Johnson. No questions. Just help.”

Hours later, the family members posted a photo of the 21-yearold with heartbreak emojis. One relative confirmed her death to 7NewsDC yesterday, describing her as “the nicest person, who never bothered anyone”. A makeshift memorial featuring her name was left in the parking lot of the Walmart where she was killed. Johnson, who had not long celebrated her 21st birthday, is one of six killed on Tuesday night when a fellow store employee opened fire in the break room of the Walmart.

The gunman, whom Walmart named as 31-year-old Andre Bing in a statement to The Independen­t, carried out the attack with a pistol before turning the gun on himself, police said. Four survivors of the shooting are still in hospital with their conditions unknown at this time.

In a press conference yesterday morning, Chesapeake Police chief Mark Solesky said that law enforcemen­t received the first 911 call about the shooting at 10.12pm on Tuesday. The first officers arrived on the scene two minutes later at 10.14pm and entered the store two minutes after that at around 10.16pm. Officers found the suspect dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds and declared the scene safe, said Chief Solesky. Following a search of the suspect’s home, Chief Solesky said that there is “no ongoing risk to the public”.

Police said that the attacker used a pistol in the attack but released no further details about the murder weapon – including whether or not it was legally purchased and registered to the suspect. Officials did not release the identities of the gunman or the victims and it is currently unclear whether or not the gunman “targeted” his victims or carried out the shooting at random, with the motive for the attack unknown.

One Walmart employee who survived the attack claimed that the gunman had “issues” with some of their other colleagues and was “laughing” as he opened fire on his victims. The witness, who was not named, told local network 10 On Your Side that the shooting unfolded when 14 employees were sat in a meeting room about to go on their shifts.

The group of workers were waiting to learn their duties for the shift when the suspect began firing, she said. The worker, who was just five days into the job at the store, said that she believed the shooting was planned because the perpetrato­r was known to have “issues” with other managers at the branch.

He appeared to target other managers in the shooting and was heard laughing at one point during the attack, she claimed. “It didn’t even look real until you could feel the gun go off,” she said. “I will never go back in that store again. I cannot, I can’t even leave my front door.”

Multiple law enforcemen­t agencies have joined the investigat­ion including Virginia Beach Police, the Chesapeake Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Washington. The attack came just days before Thanksgivi­ng when shoppers were stocking up on goods ahead of the holiday season.

Walmart released a statement yesterday saying that it was “shocked” by the event inside one of its stores. “We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates,” the company said. “We’re working closely with law enforcemen­t, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”

President Joe Biden and several Virginia lawmakers released statements condemning the latest incident of gun violence to tear apart a community in America. The massacre comes just days after a gunman opened fire inside an LGBT+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night killing five and injuring 17.

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 ?? (Facebook) ?? Tyneka Johnson was shot dead by a co - worker at the store in Virginia on Tuesday
(Facebook) Tyneka Johnson was shot dead by a co - worker at the store in Virginia on Tuesday
 ?? (Facebook) ?? Johnson had recently turned 21 years old
(Facebook) Johnson had recently turned 21 years old
 ?? (AP) ?? Police outside the Chesapeake W al mart yesterday
(AP) Police outside the Chesapeake W al mart yesterday

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