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Walmart shooting suspect described as aggressive, angry but motive unclear

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Police here said they spent Thanksgiving investigating why a Walmart supervisor shot and killed six employees — focusing at least in part on an alleged “manifesto” he had written — when Families, friends and associates of the victims mourned what should have been a happy holiday.

A slightly clearer picture emerged of the shooter, identified by authorities as 31-year-old Andre M. Bing, although neither police nor those who knew him were able to provide definite answers as to what motivates Tuesday night’s killing spree would have. Chesapeake Police Department spokesman Leo Kosinski said investigators were “actively investigating allegations that the suspect wrote a manifesto,” Portsmouth’s WAVY-TV 10 first reported, although he gave no details.

A former colleague said Bing, an overnight supervisor who joined the company in 2010, confided in her that he had “anger issues.” Another said he was “overly aggressive” and seemed to have little social life outside of work. A mother of one of the victims claimed Bing appears to be after her son – and even tried to fire him earlier this year. But others described Bing as friendly and said they never thought he would stage such an attack, which police say ended when Bing took his own life.

“We’re actively investigating a motif right now and want to make sure we’re getting it right before we release it,” Kosinski said.

Relatives of the dead faced empty seats at their holiday meals, and the nation grappled with another episode of high-profile gun violence. The shooting came days after a man was accused of fatally shooting five people at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub and less than two weeks after a 22-year-old University of Virginia student was accused of killing three student athletes to have returning from a school field trip. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there will be at least four mass shootings every week in 2022. The group defines a mass shooting as an episode in which four or more people, not including the attacker, are injured or killed.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) referred to the two most recent attacks in his state in a Thanksgiving tweet write: “On this day when we give thanks for our many blessings, [wife] Suzanne and I ask all Virginians to take a moment to lift up in prayer the families of the victims in Chesapeake and Charlottesville along with the many heroes who serve and protect.”

Brian Pendleton, 39, one of the six employees killed, was scheduled to work at Walmart Thursday after Thanksgiving dinner, said Michelle Johnson, his mother. “I’m in the kitchen now, trying to celebrate Thanksgiving for everyone the best I can,” Johnson said Thursday morning. “But it’s such a different day.”

Johnson said her son, who suffered from a brain condition called congenital hydrocephalus, worked at Walmart for more than 10 years. That year, she said her son told her Bing tried to get him fired – and left Pendleton confused about his years of service to the company. Johnson urged her son to contact Bing’s manager and ask for his job back.

“When he did that, they hired Brian back,” she said. “I just don’t understand how it all slipped through the cracks. It was so obvious that this man had something – I have a feeling he had something against my son.”

The Washington Post could not immediately confirm this report, and it was not clear if Bing had the authority to fire anyone. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment on whether Bing had attempted to have Pendleton fired.

Johnson said her son “loved his job,” but she now wondered if more could have been done to protect him. “He had some problems with [Bing] at one point, but we thought everything was resolved,” she said.

Bing, who appeared to have no criminal record, entered the store Tuesday night armed with a handgun and several magazines and opened fire, authorities said. According to police and witnesses, he aimed at employees in a break room.

Friends and relatives remembered the victims as caring, hard-working people. Alongside Pendleton, there was Tyneka Johnson, 22, a fashionista who dreamed of going to college. There was Randall Blevins, 70, who skipped retirement to keep working and enjoyed wrestling and hockey. There was Kellie Pyle, 52, who had just returned to her hometown and reconnected with her high school sweetheart. There was Lorenzo Gamble, 43, whose mother had put him in charge of banana pudding cake and banana pudding for his family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Another victim, a 16-year-old employee, has not been identified because he is a minor.

Others were injured, and two people remained hospitalized in critical condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, spokesman Mike Kafka said Thursday.

Nathan Sinclair, a former Walmart employee who worked the second shift, said Bing has a less than stellar reputation among peers. “He was known in the store to be hostile at times,” Sinclair, 21, said in a phone interview. “He talked to you like he ran the place. … There are always people in jobs you don’t like — Andre was one of them.”

Sinclair, who worked at Walmart from January through the first week of November and lives in Chesapeake, said he sometimes had to interact with Bing towards the end of his shift, but he tried to avoid chatting with the man as much as possible.

“He’s had too many moments where he was overly aggressive,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair said he was told Bing had been messaged at least twice by Walmart managers, although he didn’t know the details and The Post couldn’t immediately verify the information. Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether Bing had previously been disciplined.

At work, Bing was either focused on getting work done or playing games on his phone, Sinclair said. Although he disliked Bing, Sinclair described him as a “hard worker.” Other employees sometimes made fun of Bing’s clothes or hair, Sinclair said.

“Andre was teased a bit by some of the employees in the store,” Sinclair said. “There must have been other employees who made fun of him.”

Sinclair said Bing shared that he lived alone and often played video games when he wasn’t working. “He had no social life,” Sinclair said. “It was work, home. Homework. It didn’t seem like he had a huge support system, if any.”

Janice Strausburg said she worked at various Walmarts for about 13 years before quitting this year to become a Lyft driver. She said she worked with Bing at the store where the shooting took place for about five years.

Strausburg said she and Bing talked often, but they drifted apart after he wentssip about her with co-workers. She said she couldn’t remember the nature of his comments.

Bing was “grumpy but pleasant at times,” Strausburg said, and he once confided in her that he had anger issues.

“I think it was demons,” she said of Tuesday night’s attack. “Mental problems.”

Michelle Henry, who worked at Walmart between 2016 and 2018, said she knew Bing when he was an employee. She described him as a hard worker that people got along with. “Andre was just a normal, everyday guy. I used to laugh with him a lot,” she said. “I can’t believe he did that.”

She said she never heard Bing talk about family, but he did talk about friends outside of work.

“The only explanation I can think of is poor mental health,” Henry said. “Those were good people he killed. You have done no harm to anyone.”

Efforts by The Post to locate relatives of Bing have been unsuccessful.

The aftermath of the shooting casts a shadow over Chesapeake, a city of about 250,000 in the southeast corner of Virginia.

Zachary Adkins, 32, and his girlfriend were in his car just yards from police tape that lined the Walmart parking lot. They had driven around and decided to stop and pay their respects.

“We just thought it was the right thing,” he said. “It’s sad so close to the holiday. We have a big family dinner. These people are not allowed to go there.”

Matt Cilento, who worked as a Chesapeake police officer from 2000 to 2007 and now runs a towing business, said some of his associates wanted to do something to honor the victims after the shooting. They decided to build crosses, which they delivered Thursday in the Walmart parking lot, alongside the many flowers laid there by mourners.

“Hopefully people know that everyone in the city of Chesapeake is here to support them,” Cilento said. “It’s not just their families and friends. It is everyone in the community.”

Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.

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