“I just wanted my boys to hang out with me,” Gamble said.
But that has all changed Tuesday night after authorities said a man opened fire at the Chesapeake Walmart where Lorenzo Gamble worked the night shift as a janitor. According to officials, the shooter – a Store Attendant – fatally shot six people and injured at least six others before taking his own life.
On Wednesday night, Chesapeake officials released the names of five of the six people who died, all Walmart employees: Brian Pendelton. Kelly Pyle. Randall Blevins. Tyneka Johnson. A 16-year-old from Chesapeake whose name has not been released due to his age. And Lorenzo Gamble.
At least 50 people were inside the store at the time of the shooting. Some collected last minute Thanksgiving purchases. Others worked for the retail giant during their night shifts.
On twitter, said the city Two of the deceased victims and the shooter were found in the employees’ break room at the back of the store and another dead victim was found near the front. Three other victims were taken to hospitals but died, the city said. Six other victims were taken to hospitals for treatment, one was in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.
The killing — the third multiple shooting this month — came days after a man fatally shot five people at a Colorado LGBTQ club and less than two weeks after a 22-year-old University of Virginia student was charged with the murders of three returning students had been accused of a school trip.
Billy Pillar-Gibson immediately feared for his cousin Kellie Pyle when news of the Walmart shooting broke. Pyle recently landed a job at the Chesapeake Walmart after returning to her native Norfolk in May to be with the high school sweetheart she reconnected with after a divorce.
Pillar-Gibson and his husband raced to Norfolk General Hospital, as did Pyle’s fiancee, where they were told she was undergoing surgery. But she wasn’t there. As it turns out, Pillar-Gibson said Pyle died in the break room, a place he knew well from having once worked in the store.
After years in Indiana and Kentucky, Pyle — a 52-year-old grandmother — was thrilled to live in the same town as Pillar-Gibson, who called her his best friend.
“We always said we’d grow old together,” he said Wednesday night at his home near the store where she died. “None of this makes sense. All in all we are still young.”
Pillar-Gibson broke down as he described his cousin’s sarcastic sense of humor and the bonds they forged growing up in a family with more than their share of quirky personalities, including “Nanny Catherine,” the grim matriarch, whom they worshiped and feared.
“We grew up in a crazy family and we hit it off,” he said. “I can’t remember life without her.”
Pyle had two grown children and a two year old granddaughter and was looking forward to spending the holidays with her family in Norfolk.
“It was supposed to be her first Thanksgiving here,” he said.
Family and friends of the other victims turned to their memories as she took in the news of the shooting.
Casheba Cannon tutored Tyneka Johnson during her freshman two years at Western Branch High School. Cannon remembered her as a young person with dreams of attending college and willing to overcome her academic weaknesses to better herself, all with the support of a supportive family.
“Education was the priority. Her family went above and beyond to make sure she got help,” Cannon recalled.
During the weekly sessions, Johnson was always a fashionista that arrived with her hair and nails while displaying an exuberant personality and an affinity for music and dance, Cannon said.
But the young woman was also willing to help younger students, and she “got along” with everyone she came into contact with at Cannon’s Blessed Tutoring Services.
“She was that kid. When she came to tutoring, she was in very good shape,” Cannon said. “Tyneka was a light in a dark room.”
The shooting hit the community hard. People on Facebook prayed that rumors about other victims were unfounded. They posted photos of black ribbons and tagged #PrayingforChesapeake. And they sent their condolences to the families, including Gambles.
When she first heard news of the shooting, Linda Gamble kept calling her son, only to get the same result: no answer.
He must have dropped his phone running out of the store, she thought to herself. But the longer she didn’t hear from him, the more worried she became.
Her husband, Alonzo Gamble, spent much of the night at the Chesapeake Conference Center with other concerned family members awaiting answers about his son’s whereabouts. Then he received the news his family had feared: Lorenzo Antron Gamble had died in the shooting.
Gamble worked at Walmart for 15 years, his mother said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. He loved spending time with his two sons, attending his 19-year-old’s soccer games and cheering for the Washington Commanders. His 10-year-old would cry if his dad left — he just wanted to spend more time with his dad, Linda Gamble said.
“He just kept to himself and did his job,” she said. “He was the quiet one in the family.”
Alonzo Gamble repeated Linda’s memory of her son. He was quiet and reserved. He didn’t have many friends, but he loved spending time with his two sons. He spent time on his silver Mustang GT with black tarmac, changing rims and making sure it ran smoothly.
“I hope he’s alive and coming back,” Linda Gamble said through tears.
She went to her son’s home on Wednesday morning and tried to fathom the loss. Inside, before she’d properly made his bed, she found all the ingredients for banana pudding untouched on the counter.
Tom Jackman contributed to this report. Vozzella reported from Chesapeake, Virginia.
Mass shooting at Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.
The newest: An employee opened fire in a break room at a Walmart in Virginia Tuesday night, killing at least six people before taking his own life, according to Chesapeake police.
Remembering the Victims: The city of Chesapeake on Wednesday identified five of the six victims killed in the Walmart shooting. Their names are Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins and Tyneka Johnson. The sixth victim is a 16-year-old whose name is currently being withheld by authorities because he is a minor.
Who is the alleged Walmart shooter? Andre M. Bing has been identified by police and the company as a suspect in the Walmart shooting. He was a night attendant at the store.