[Breaking news update, published at 8:21 a.m. ET]
The gunman who killed six people at a Walmart in Virginia on Tuesday night was an employee at the store, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said Wednesday. Solesky said the gunman is believed to have died of a single gunshot wound, but his identity has not been released because his next of kin have not been notified.
[Previous story, published at 7:31 a.m. ET]
At least six people were shot Tuesday night inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, in an attack that occurred within an hour of the store’s scheduled closing time, city officials said on early Wednesday.
the shooter is dead, city officials said.
Investigators were sweeping the store overnight into Wednesday looking for victims or people who may be hiding, Chesapeake Police spokesman Leo Kosinski told CNN earlier today. The police had earlier reported the injured persons.
Investigators believe the shooter was an employee or former employee of the store who opened fire on other employees in a break room, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Officers believe the shooter at one point turned the gun on himself, according to the source.
Officers responded to the Walmart around 10:12 pm – less than an hour before it was scheduled to close – and found victims and evidence of the shooting, Kosinski said.
Five patients are being treated at Sentara General Hospital in nearby Norfolk, Virginia, a Sentara Healthcare spokeswoman told CNN affiliate WTKR. An update on their conditions was not immediately available.
A news conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Chesapeake city officials said on Twitter.
The shooting, which happened two days before Thanksgiving as customers were doing last-minute shopping, is another example of how gun violence has surged into American life in places traditionally considered safe, from schools to shops and even hospitals.
At the University of Virginia in Charlottesville – which is about 170 miles west of Chesapeake – a 22-year-old student allegedly opened fire on fellow students this month, killing three of them on a bus back to campus from a field trip to Washington, DC.
Last weekend, a 22-year-old shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and injured 19 others, authorities said.
Tuesday’s shooting occurred as the US has recorded more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive and CNN have listed a mass shooting as one involving at least four people killed or injured, not including the shooter.
Joetta Jeffery told CNN that her mother, Betsy Umphlett, sent her texts from inside the store during the shooting, alerting her that someone had fired shots.
“I was crying, I was shaking,” Jeffery told CNN. “I was just talking to him about buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, then this text came in.”
Jeffery said his mother was unharmed but in shock, and they were reunited.
Chesapeake city officials asked to stay away from the store during the investigation.
“Our first responders are well trained and ready 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 are asking that only immediate family and emergency contacts for people in the store come to the center.
In a statement, Walmart said it was shocked by the tragedy that occurred at one of its stores.
“We are praying for those affected, the community and our partners. We are working closely with law enforcement, and we are committed to supporting our partners,” the company said in the statement.
The Washington, DC, field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is assisting local police in the investigation, the bureau said on Twitter.