The Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six of his co-workers at a store in Chesapeake, Va., this week purchased a pistol only hours before the massacre and left a note on his phone, in which he described planning to target some colleagues and spare others, according to new details released by the Chesapeake police on Friday.
As friends and relatives of the victims mourned, with a candlelight vigil planned by the city on Monday, the new details provided the first indication of what led to the eruption of workplace violence on Tuesday night in a Walmart break room, where members of what has been described as a close-knit overnight team were gunned down.
The police said an analysis of a phone belonging to the gunman, identified as Andre Bing, 31, turned up the message, in which he said employees at the store had mocked him and compared him to a serial killer. The phone was found at the scene, officials said when posting the message on Twitter.
In what he called a “death note,” the gunman said he would not kill an employee who had cancer because the gunman’s mother had died from the disease. “My God forgive me for what I’m going to do…” the note ended. Officials did not say when it was written.
The new details also indicated the ease with which the gunman had purchased the pistol used in the killing, a 9-millimeter handgun. “The gun was legally purchased from a local store on the morning of Tuesday,” the city said in a statement, adding that the gunman “had no criminal history.”
The police found a box of ammunition as well as a receipt and other paperwork related to the purchase of the gun, the city said. Officials did not say where the gunman had bought the weapon.
Democrats in the state legislature have enacted several new restrictions on gun purchases in recent years, including universal background checks. But based on the information that officials have released so far, it did not appear that any of the regulations would have applied to the gunman. Like most states, Virginia does not require a waiting period for firearm purchases.
According to a witness, the gunman opened fire without warning after entering the break room where his co-workers had gathered as their 10 p.m. shift began. The first call came to the police at 10:12 p.m., and officers entered the store about four minutes later, the authorities said. By that point, the gunman was already dead from what the police have said was an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The victims included several employees who had worked with him for years — Randall Blevins, Lorenzo Gamble and Brian Pendleton — and others who had more recently joined the staff, including Kellie Pyle and Tyneka Johnson. One victim was a 16-year-old boy identified on Friday by the authorities as Fernando Chavez-Barron.
Two people injured in the shooting remained hospitalized on Friday, including one in critical condition, officials said.
Former co-workers said the overnight team at the store had formed a close relationship but also recalled that Mr. Bing, as a supervisor, displayed some off-putting behavior. One former employee said that he could be aggressive. Another described him as “a loner.”
Shaundrayia Reese, 27, who had worked on the overnight crew, said that some on the team “did complain to the managers about Andre’s behavior.”
The note attributed to the gunman by the police indicated a belief that at least one of his co-workers had been “trying to get rid of me since day one” and that his phone had been “hacked,” and said that he planned to act in response. The note included several references to God, the Holy Spirit and Satan and suggested that Mr. Bing had been concerned about having “social deficits” since he was a child.
In a statement in response to the release of the note, Walmart said on Friday that “there is nothing that can justify taking innocent lives.”
J. David Goodman