Six people have been shot dead and others wounded after a gun attack by an employee at a Walmart store in the US state of Virginia.
Officers responded to a report of a shooting at the Walmart in Chesapeake around 10.15pm local time on Tuesday and as soon as they arrived they found evidence of a shooting, Chesapeake Police spokesman Leo Kosinski said in a briefing.
Over 35 to 40 minutes, officers found multiple dead people and injured people in the store and put rescue and tactical teams together to go inside and provide life-saving measures. Four people are in hospital, police said.
The assailant killed himself, the chief of Chesapeake Police Mark G Solesky told reporters . He also confirmed he was an employee of the retail giant.
Police have not confirmed reports the shooter was a store manager who turned a gun on co-workers. They believe that the shooting had stopped when police arrived.
Multiple people are dead or injured at the Walmart at Sam's Circle in Chesapeake, according to Chesapeake police. Shooter is believed to be dead, police say. pic.twitter.com/4YsIBEWB2Z
— Ian Munro (@iamIanMunro) November 23, 2022
He has not yet been named.
One shopper told a local TV station that the store was busy just before the shooting on Tuesday night with people stocking up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in America.
Employee Briana Tyler told ABC's Good Morning America that workers had gathered in the store's break room as part of their regular routine ahead of their shifts.
She said: "I looked up, and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire."
Ms Tyler added that "multiple people" dropped to the floor.
"He didn't say a word, he didn't say anything at all," she said.
The Virginia Pilot newspaper tweeted that, as of 12.30am (5.30am GMT), police were going through the supermarket “looking for victims and shoppers who may still be hiding”.
In a statement, Walmart said: “We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store.
“We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store. We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.
— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) November 23, 2022
Chesapeake Police tweeted that a family reunification site has been set up at the Chesapeake Conference Centre. This site is only for immediate family members or the emergency contact of those who may have been in the building, the tweet said.
One former worker at the store, Camille Buggs, said she went to the reunification site to seek information about ex-co-workers she had not been able to reach since the shooting.
“You always say you don’t think it would happen in your town, in your neighbourhood, in your store - and that’s the thing that has me shocked,” she said.
“We’re all in disbelief,” she added.
Camille Buggs, 58, of Chesapeake, a former worker at the Walmart, said she came to the reunification site to try and find some information about some of her former coworkers she still considers family but has not been able to reach since the shooting. pic.twitter.com/JWNtY2hM7V
— Ian Munro (@iamIanMunro) November 23, 2022
A spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which has the area’s top trauma centre, told local television station WAVY that five patients were being treated there.
The Virginia shooting comes three days after a person opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17.
The alleged attacker, who is nonbinary, was arrested after patrons at the club tackled and beat them. The shootings come in a year when the country was shaken by the deaths of 21 in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Tuesday's shooting also brought back memories of another shooting at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman police say was targeting Mexicans opened fire at a store in El Paso and killed 22 people. Walmart did not have a security guard on duty that day.
US senator Mark Warner tweeted that he is “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake”.
State senator Louise Lucas echoed Mr Warner’s sentiment tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America's latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district”.
Chesapeake is about seven miles south of Norfolk in the US state.