“I just wanted my kids to spend time with me,” Gamble said.
But all that 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 authorities, the gunman, a store supervisor: 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 who died, all Walmart employees: Brian Pendelton. Kellie Pyle. Randall Blevins. Tyneka Johnson. A 16-year-old from Chesapeake whose name was withheld due to his age. and Lawrence Gamble.
At least 50 people were in the store at the time of the shooting. Some collected last-minute groceries for Thanksgiving. Others worked their night shift for the giant retailer.
On twitter, the city said Two of the deceased victims and the shooter were found in the employee break room at the rear of the store, and another dead victim was found near the front. Three other victims were rushed to hospitals but died, the city said. Six additional victims were taken to hospitals for treatment, with one in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.
The slaying, 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. of the murder of three students returning from a school trip
Billy Pillar-Gibson immediately feared for his cousin Kellie Pyle the moment news of the Walmart shooting broke. Pyle landed a job at the Chesapeake Walmart recently, after returning to her native Norfolk in May to be with the high school sweetheart she had reconnected with after a divorce.
Pillar-Gibson and her husband rushed to Norfolk General Hospital, as did Pyle’s fiancé, where they were told she was in surgery. But she was not there. As it turned out, Pillar-Gibson said, Pyle had died in the break room, a place she knew well because she had once worked in the store.
After years in Indiana and Kentucky, Pyle, a 52-year-old grandmother, was thrilled to be living in the same town as Pillar-Gibson, who called her her best friend.
“We always said we were going to grow old together,” she said Wednesday night at her apartment, not far from the store where she died. “None of this makes sense. In the general scheme of things, we’re still young.”
Pillar-Gibson broke down as she described her cousin’s sarcastic sense of humor and the bonds they had forged growing up in a family with a host of quirky personalities, including “Nanny Catherine,” the fiery-tempered matriarch they both adored and feared.
“We grew up in a crazy family and we understood each other,” he said. “I don’t remember life without her.”
Pyle had two grown sons and a 2-year-old granddaughter, and was looking forward to spending the holidays with his family in Norfolk.
“It was going to be his first Thanksgiving here,” he said.
Family members and friends of the other victims turned to their memories as they absorbed the news of the shootings.
Casheba Cannon tutored Tyneka Johnson her first two years at Western Branch High School. Cannon remembered her as a young person who dreamed of going to college and was willing to overcome academic weaknesses to improve, all with the backing of a supportive family.
“Education was at the forefront. Her family did everything she had to do to make sure she got help,” Cannon recalled.
During the weekly sessions, Johnson was always a fashionista, reaching with her hair and nails done, while displaying an enthusiastic personality and an affinity for music and dance, Cannon said.
But the young woman was also willing to help out the younger students, “hitting” with anyone she came in contact with at Cannon’s Blessed Tutoring Services.
“She was that girl. When she came to tutoring, she was very well organized,” Cannon said. “Tyneka was a light in a dark room.”
The shooting hit the community hard. On Facebook, people prayed that the rumors about other victims were unfounded. They posted photos of black belts and tagged #PrayingforChesapeake. And they expressed their condolences to the families, including Gamble’s.
When she first heard the news of the shooting, Linda Gamble called her son over and over again, only to get the same result: no answer.
She must have dropped her phone on her way out of the store, she thought to herself. But the longer she went without hearing from him, the more she worried.
Her husband, Alonzo Gamble, spent much of the night at the Chesapeake Conference Center with other concerned family members, waiting for answers about their son’s whereabouts. Then she received the news her family had feared: Lorenzo Antron Gamble had been killed in the shootout.
Gamble had worked at Walmart for 15 years, his mother said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. She loved spending time with her two children, attending her 19-year-old son’s soccer games and cheering on the Washington Commanders. Her 10-year-old son cried every time her father left; she just wanted to spend more time with her father, Linda Gamble said.
“He just kept quiet and did his job,” he said. “He was the quiet one in the family.”
Alonzo Gamble echoed 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 children. He spent time on his silver Mustang GT with a black top, changing the tires and keeping it running smoothly.
“I hope he’s still alive and coming back,” Linda Gamble said through tears.
He went to his son’s house Wednesday morning, trying to come to terms with the loss. Inside, before she carefully made her bed, she found all the ingredients for the 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 last: An employee opened fire in a break room at a Virginia Walmart 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 boy, whose name the authorities are currently withholding because he is a minor.
Who is the suspect in the Walmart shooting? Andre M. Bing was identified as the suspect in the Walmart shooting by police and the company. He was a night supervisor at the store.