The first victim killed in the mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, has been identified as a 21-year-old store worker after her family made a desperate plea to find her following the horrific attack.
Tyneka Johnson died when an associate opened fire inside the superstore on Sam’s Circle shortly after 10pm on Tuesday night.
In a heartbreaking Facebook post late Tuesday night, Johnson’s family pleaded for help to find out what had happened to her.
“We need help locating my cousin. He is an employee at Walmart,” wrote a distraught family member.
“Everyone needs to know if he is safe. This post is about helping and locating Tyneka Johnson. No question. Just help.”
Hours later, family members posted a photo of the 21-year-old with heartbreaking emojis.
A relative confirmed her death to 7NewsDC on Wednesday, describing her as “the nicest person who never bothered anyone.”
A makeshift memorial bearing her name was left in the Walmart parking lot where she was killed.
Johnson, who was not long from her 21st birthday, is one of six victims killed Tuesday night when a store associate opened fire in the Walmart recess.
The gunman, whom Walmart identified as 31-year-old Andre Bing in a statement to The independentcarried out the assault with a handgun before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Four surviving victims are still hospitalized in an unknown condition.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Soleski said law enforcement received the first 911 call about the shooting at 10:12 p.m. Tuesday.
The first officers arrived at the scene two minutes later at 10.14pm and entered the shop two minutes later at around 10.16pm.
Officers found the suspect dead from gunshot wounds and declared the scene safe, Chief Solesky said.
Six victims were killed in the attack, while many others were rushed to hospital.
After searching the suspect’s home, Chief Solesky said there is “no ongoing danger to the public.”
Police said the gunman used a handgun in the attack, but did not provide further details about the murder weapon — including the exact make and model and whether or not it was legally purchased and registered to the suspect.
Officials have not released the identity of the gunman or the victims, and it is currently unclear whether the gunman “targeted” his victims or fired randomly, with an unknown motive for the attack.
A Walmart employee who survived the attack claimed the gunman had “issues” with some other co-workers 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 as 14 employees were sitting in a meeting room about to go on shift.
The group of workers was waiting to learn their shift assignments when the suspect started shooting, he said.
The employee, who had been on the job at the store for just five days, said she believed the shooting was planned because the shooter was known to have “issues” with other managers at the branch.
He appeared to target other managers on set and was heard laughing at one point during the attack, he claimed.
“It didn’t even seem real until you felt the gun go off,” he said.
“I will never go back to this store again. I can’t, I can’t even leave my front door.”
Kevin Harper, a man who identified himself as a store worker, posted a Facebook Live outside the store Tuesday night where he claimed he had just gotten off his break when “one of the managers” came in “and just started spraying.” .
In the video, he claimed he had a near miss with the shooter as he had just left the breakout room when shots rang out.
“I just got out of recess, the manager came in there, started locking people in there, started shooting, bro. The manager came in, started dumping, man. As soon as I left the break, he got in there, man… that’s wild,” he says in the video.
Mr Harper claims he was “one of the managers” and that other “associates” were killed in the attack.
“It’s wild, though, it was the manager, one of the managers,” he says.
“He blew people’s minds and everything … He went in and just started spraying and spraying,” he adds.
“Unfortunately though, we’ve lost some of our partners, I don’t know how many.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation, including Virginia Beach police, the Chesapeake Police Department and the Washington Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
It comes just days before Thanksgiving, when shoppers were likely stocking up on products ahead of the holiday season.
Walmart released a statement early Wednesday saying it was “shocked” by the incident inside one of its stores.
“We are praying for those affected, the community and our partners,” the company said.
“We are working closely with law enforcement and are focused on supporting our partners.”
President Joe Biden and several Virginia lawmakers issued 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.
Five people were killed and 17 others were injured when suspected gunman Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire inside Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.
The carnage ended when heroic club players tackled the attacker to the ground and held him until police arrived on the scene.
The five victims killed in that attack have been identified as Daniel Ashton, Derrick Rabb, Kelly Loving, Ashley Poe and Raymond Vance.
This follows another mass shooting in the state of Virginia on Nov. 13, when three star football players from the University of Virginia were shot and killed as they returned to campus from a field trip.
Fellow student and former football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, allegedly opened fire on the bus.
Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed in the attack, while two others were injured but survived.
Mr. Jones was arrested the next day and charged with murder and other charges.
In 2019, a Walmart store was also the site of another mass horror attack.
A total of 23 people have been killed in a mass shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas.