A bride-to-be, devoted dad and 16-year-old boy: These are the six victims of the Chesapeake Walmart shooting

14 people sat in break room before start of night shift, six would not make it home

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 25 November 2022 14:01 GMT
Walmart manager shoots six dead, kills himself in store attack

Six employees were killed in the attack on the Chesapeake, Virginia, branch of Walmart on 22 November 2022.

Night shift team leader Andre Bing walked into the break room where 14 employees were meeting shortly after 10pm and opened fire with a pistol. He then turned the gun on himself.

Those killed were Lorenzo Gamble, 43; Brian Pendleton, 38; Kellie Pyle, 52; Randall Blevins, 70; Tyneka Johnson, 22; and Fernando Chavez Jr, 16.

At least six other surviving victims were taken to local hospitals for further treatment, with two still hospitalised as of Friday.

Here’s what we know about those whose lives were snatched away shortly before Thanksgiving.

Tyneka Johnson, 22, of Portsmouth

A makeshift memorial to Tyneka Johnson was placed in a grassy area outside the Walmart, with the words “Our Hearts are with you” and a basket of flowers on Wednesday morning.

The remembrance included a cluster of blue, white and gold balloons tied to a tree, alongside a stark yellow line of police tape.

Tyneka Johnson
Tyneka Johnson (Facebook)

Ms Johnson was the first victim to be identified publicly.

In a heartbreaking Facebook post late on Tuesday night, her family begged for help in finding out what had happened to her.

“We need help locating my lil cousin. She is an employee at Walmart,” wrote a desperate family member.

“Everyone need to know if she is safe. This post is about helping and locating Tyneka Johnson. No questions. Just help.”

Hours later, the family members posted a photo of the 21-year-old with heartbreak emojis.

One relative confirmed her death to 7NewsDC on Wednesday, describing her as “the nicest person, who never bothered anyone”.

Fernando Chavez Jr, 16, of Chesapeake

Fernando Chavez Jr, known to family and friends as Fernando Jesus Chavez was the youngest victim killed in the Chesapeake massacre.

A crowd gathered at the Sam’s Circle Walmart on Thursday to pay tribute to the teenager who family and friends described as “humble and intelligent”.

“Fernando was such a nice kid, he would say hi to anybody,” said Joshua Trejo, 17, a friend since middle school. He added that he and Fernando were looking forward to working together at a new job, reported the Virginian Pilot newspaper.

He was quoted as saying that he had texted Chavez several times before he heard from his friend’s brother that he had been killed.

Another friend of the teenager, 17-year-old Kayla Pineda, said that when she heard of his death, “it just sunk in, and I started crying”.

“I’m just thinking back about all the memories and how he’s actually gone now,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

“I think I’m still in shock,” Kayla said. “I guess I just don’t want him to really have left us.”

Loved ones set up a GoFundMe raising money for the teen’s funeral.

Kellie Pyle, 52, of Chesapeake

Kellie Pyle was remembered as a generous and kind person, a mother who had wedding plans in the near future.

“We love her,” said Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer. “She was going to marry my son next year. She was an awesome, kind individual — yes she was.”

Kellie Pyle
Kellie Pyle

Ms Pyle had adult children in Kentucky, where she had lived for years, who will be traveling to Virginia in the wake of the tragedy, Ms Spencer said.

Billy Pillar-Gibson, Ms Pyle’s cousin, told The Washington Post that she had recently moved back to her native Norfolk in May having reconnected with her high school sweetheart following a divorce.

He too had worked at the store and was familiar with the break room in which she died.

“We grew up in a crazy family, and we understood each other,” Mr Pillar-Gibson said. “I don’t remember life without her.”

Brian Pendleton, 38, of Chesapeake

Brian Pendleton made sure to be punctual. Although his shift as a custodian started at 10.30pm, he was in the break room when the shooting started just after 10pm, according to his mother, Michelle Johnson.

“He always came to work early so he would be on time for work,” she told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “He liked his coworkers.”

Brian Pendleton
Brian Pendleton

Mr Pendleton had recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary working at the store.

His mother said he didn’t have any problems at work, except with a supervisor, Andre Bing, now identified as the gunman.

“He just didn’t like my son,” Ms Johnson said. “He would tell me that he (Bing) would give him a hard time.”

Mr Pendleton was born with a congenital brain disorder and grew up in Chesapeake, his mother said.

“He called me yesterday before he was going to work,” Ms Johnson said. “I always tell him to call me when gets off work.”

As she was getting ready for bed, Ms Johnson got a call from a family friend telling her there was a shooting at the store.

“Brian was a happy-go-lucky guy. Brian loved family. Brian loved friends. He loved to tell jokes,” his mother said. “We’re going to miss him.”

Josh Johnson, a former Walmart employee, remembered him as an older brother who always remained humble and was among the store’s hardest workers.

“If you had any problems, you could go to Brian,” Mr Johnson said. “He would go to bat for you and help you with anything.”

Another former Walmart employee, Shaundrayia Reese, told The New York Times: “He never raised his voice, never had a bad bone in his body.”

“Nobody could ever say anything bad about that man,” she added. “He was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”

Lorenzo Gamble, 43, of Chesapeake

Lorenzo Gamble was a custodian on the overnight shift and had worked at Walmart for 15 years, the Post reported.

His parents Linda and Alonzo Gamble said he loved spending time with his two sons.

Lorenzo Gamble
Lorenzo Gamble

“He just kept to himself and did his job,” Ms Gamble said. “He was the quiet one of the family.”

His mother said Mr Gamble enjoyed going to his 19-year-old’s football games and cheering for the Washington Commanders NFL team.

She posted on Facebook that she’s having trouble saying goodbye.

“Missing my baby right now, life is not same without my son,” she wrote.

Randy Blevins, 70, of Chesapeake

Randy Blevins was a longtime member of the store’s team that set prices and arranged merchandise, the Times reported.

Randy Blevins
Randy Blevins

Former co-worker Ms Reese, who worked at the store from around 2015 to 2018, spoke fondly of Blevins as “Mr. Randy.”

She said the overnight crew at the store was “a family” and that employees relied on one another.

With reporting from The Associated Press

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