The Tuesday night shooting — two days before Thanksgiving — began minutes after 10 p.m. in the employee break room, where some workers were getting ready to begin their night shift.
In addition to the six workers who did not survive, others continue to receive medical treatment. Two victims at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital were in critical condition on Thanksgiving Day, hospital spokesman Mike Kafka told CNN, and another victim was released on Wednesday.
“Today we are only focused on those injured by Tuesday’s tragic event, but the police investigation continues,” officials said, adding that additional information will be provided on Friday.
The dead are Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, Kellie Pyle, 52, and a 16-year-old boy, who is not named because he is a minor, according to authorities.
As police work to determine a motive for one of at least three mass shootings in Virginia this month, Chesapeake officials have announced a vigil for victims scheduled for Monday night in City Park.
“Chesapeake is a close-knit community and we are all shocked,” Mayor Rick West said in an online post earlier this week. “Together we will support each other during this time.”
Survivors describe shooting
The shooting in Chesapeake this week broke out suddenly, with witnesses saying they were in shock and disbelief when they saw the gunman point a firearm at them.
Walmart employee Kevin Harper said the gunman entered the break room and immediately began firing.
“He came in there and just started spraying,” Harper said in a video posted to social media.
Two victims killed and the gunman were found in the break room, another victim was found near the front of the store and three others died in hospital, Chesapeake city officials said.
Jessie Wilczewski, who was recently hired, told CNN she was in a regularly scheduled meeting when the shooting began.
At first, “it didn’t register as real,” she said, until the sound of the shots echoed through her chest.
Wilczewski hid under a table as the gunman walked down a nearby hallway. She saw some of her colleagues lying on the floor or lying on chairs — all silent and some probably dead, she said. She stayed because she didn’t want to leave them alone.
“I could have run out that door… and I stayed. I stayed so they wouldn’t be alone in their last moments,” Wilczewski said in a message to the families of two victims.
When the gunman returned to the break room, Wilczewski said, he told her to get out from under the table and go home.
“I had to touch the door which was covered in blood,” she said. “I just remember grabbing my bag and thinking, ‘If he’s going to shoot me in the back – well, he’s going to have to try real hard, because I’m running’, and I booked it. … and I did didn’t stop until I got to my car and then I had a meltdown.”
Briana Tyler, also a newly hired employee, said she saw bullets flying just inches from her face.
“Suddenly you just hear pa pa pa pa pa pa pa,” Tyler said. “There were people just falling to the ground,” she said. “Everyone was screaming, gasping, and yes, he just walked off after that and just went through the store and just kept firing.
Holiday marked with emptiness for families of gun violence victims
A gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May, killing 19 fourth-grade students and their two teachers before authorities shot him dead.
“Six months since our world came crashing down, and I have to ‘celebrate the holidays,'” Cross wrote in a social media post on Thanksgiving Day. “How do you celebrate when you’re devastated. How do you give thanks when you have nothing left to give. How do you pretend and laugh when you wake up crying.”
“My life was flooded with sadness and turmoil. I felt like I was at the bottom of a giant hole that I could never climb out of. I didn’t know how to help myself, let alone those I loved Hockley wrote. online in a Thanksgiving message.
“But in the weeks and months that followed, and with the support of those around me, I found a newfound sense of purpose. To prevent other children and families from suffering the same fate.”
CNN’s Josh Campbell, Michelle Watson and Andi Babineau contributed to this report.