U.S. News

At least 7 dead, including suspect, in shooting at Walmart in Virginia, police say

Phil Helsel and Lindsey Pipia

At least seven people, including the suspect, are dead after a shooting Tuesday night at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, officials said.

"Chesapeake Police confirm 7 fatalities, including the shooter, from last night's shooting at Walmart on Sam's Circle," the City of Chesapeake said in a tweet early Wednesday morning.

A police spokesman told NBC News authorities were aware of multiple reports the shooter was a Walmart employee. Officials could not confirm those reports, the spokesman said.

The shooting at the Walmart Supercenter was reported to police shortly after 10 p.m., Chesapeake Police Department Officer Leo Kosinski told reporters in a briefing following the incident.

Police believe the shooting happened inside the Walmart. One person was found deceased outside the store, Kosinski said.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital was treating five victims, a spokesperson for the health care system said, but their conditions were not released.

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Kosinski told reporters he didn't know how the shooter died. He said he didn't believe the gunman was shot by police. It was not clear if any of the victims or the attacker were employees.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington said it was responding to the shooting.

"I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our City," Chesapeake Mayor Rick West said in a statement Wednesday morning. "My prayers are with all those affected — the victims, their family, their friends, and their coworkers," he said, thanking first responders for their "quick actions."

"Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news. Together, we will support each other throughout this time. Please keep us in your prayers," West said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted: "Sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake. I'll be monitoring developments closely."

A reunification site was set up at the Chesapeake Conference Center for immediate family members or emergency contacts, the city said.

"It's sad. We're a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday," Kosinski said, adding, "It's just a bad time all around, just for everybody involved — especially the victims. This is horrible."

Walmart said that its thoughts were with everyone affected, and that it was fully cooperating with law enforcement and supporting its employees.

"We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "We're praying for those impacted, the community and our associates."