In a 30-minute time span, police from across multiple agencies responded in force. FBI agents could be seen at the scene, and ATF agents had been en route.
“As police arrived on scene, they realized it was an active shooter situation and we had to change our tactics,” said police spokesman Leo Kosinski during a briefing Tuesday night.
Walmart issued a statement via Twitter expressing shock.
“We’re praying for those impacted, the community and our associates,” the company said. “We’re working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates.”
The Walmart is on Sam’s Circle, off North Battlefield Boulevard and just off I-64. The store will be closed while the investigation is ongoing.
The Chesapeake Conference Center reunification site was meant for immediate family members or the emergency contact of anyone who may have been in the building.
Among those gathered outside very early Wednesday morning was Camille Buggs, a former Walmart employee. She said she came to the conference center to try to find some information about some of her former co-workers, whom she still considers family, but had not been able to reach since the shooting.
“You always say you don’t think it would happen in your town, in your neighborhood, in your store — in your favorite store — and that’s the thing that has me shocked,” said Buggs, 58, of Chesapeake.
Buggs, who now works at nearby Greenbrier Mall, said she and her current co-workers would typically stop by the Walmart on their way home for snacks or food. But they opted not to Tuesday night, thinking about the long workweek still ahead. It was only once she got home that she heard the news.
On Twitter, local politicians shared reactions to the deadly shooting.
“I am absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district in Chesapeake, Virginia tonight. I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives,” said state Sen. Louise Lucas, a Democrat.
“Enough is enough,” said U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat representing the 2nd District.
Chesapeake Mayor Rick West called for prayers for the victims, their loved ones and their co-workers, and expressed gratitude for the quick action by first responders.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our City,” West said in a statement. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news. Together, we will support each other throughout this time.”
(Virginian-Pilot staff reporter Jane Harper contributed to this report.)
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