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The latest updates from the shooting at a Walmart in Virginia

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There has been yet another mass shooting in this country, this time in the city of Chesapeake, Va. Six victims died after a shooter opened fire at a Walmart store. Officials say the shooter is also dead, and four people are hospitalized. Chesapeake city manager Chris Price talked to reporters this morning.

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CHRIS PRICE: I know it pains all of us to be together today on this day of incredible tragedy and unimaginable sadness. Chesapeake's a wonderful place. We come together when times are good. We come together when times are difficult. I know that we're going through very, very difficult days today.

MARTIN: NPR's Sarah McCammon was at the briefing and joins us from outside the Chesapeake Public Safety Operations Center with the latest. Hi, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What did you hear from officials?

MCCAMMON: Well, they believe, first of all, that there is no longer a threat to the public. They say a total of seven people have died. That includes the shooter himself. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound with a pistol. As for the four people who are still hospitalized, police aren't providing any details about their conditions. The police chief, Mark Solesky, walked reporters through the timeline of what happened last night. He says the 911 dispatch center received a call at 10:12 p.m. Officers were on the scene in two minutes, he says, and entered the store two minutes after that, so within four minutes of the call. The scene was declared safe after just about an hour, at 11:20 p.m. And, Rachel, just for context, Chesapeake is a city of about a quarter-million people along the southern Virginia coast. The location, again, was a Walmart Supercenter, you know, the larger type of store. It's not clear how many people were there in the store at the time of the shooting. We do know that it was open, as I'm sure many people were shopping for the Thanksgiving holiday.

MARTIN: Do we know anything at this point about the shooter or a motive?

MCCAMMON: Well, police will confirm that the shooter was a male who worked at the Walmart, but they aren't saying a whole lot more. They're still in the early stages of the investigation. Here's the police chief, Mark Solesky.

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MARK SOLESKY: The Chesapeake police SWAT team executed the search warrant at the suspect's residence. And with the help of the Virginia State Police, we cleared the house. We have reason to believe that there's no risk to the public at this time.

MCCAMMON: Police say they're working to notify the shooter's next of kin and are waiting to identify him publicly. They declined to comment on local news reports that said the shooting happened in the Walmart break room. So to be clear, they're not confirming that at this stage. We don't know much more about that report. And Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says he's been in touch with law enforcement and is making resources available to them as they investigate.

MARTIN: So as you noted, officials are still notifying the families of victims. Do we know if they were all employees of the Walmart?

MCCAMMON: You know, we really don't know. Police declined to comment on whether they were employees or customers or both. They are not releasing their names or any details, really, about the victims - ages, for example. They don't know, they say, if it was a targeted or a random attack. And police just caution that it can take days to process a scene like this. The city has set up a family reunification site a few miles away from the Walmart for people searching for their loved ones.

MARTIN: I mean, we just have to say it again, that this is the second mass shooting in this country in a matter of days after the massacre that happened at the LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. How are people responding at this point, Sarah?

MCCAMMON: Right. I mean, as you mentioned, this comes just days after that mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured more than a dozen others. It's also happening just before Thanksgiving. It is a lot to absorb. Chesapeake's mayor, Rick West, released a statement saying that - you know, thanking first responders for their quick work and asking for prayers and support from the public during this time. And the state senator who represents this area, Louise Lucas, tweeted this morning, I'm absolutely heartbroken that America's latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district. And she said, quote, "I will not rest to find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives."

MARTIN: I mean, Sarah, you live in that area of Virginia. You've covered - you covered another mass shooting there just a few years ago. What, if anything, has changed when it comes to finding solutions?

MCCAMMON: Right. In May of 2019, a gunman shot and killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach, which is right next door. There was a push at that time for gun reform, and Governor Northam succeeded - then-Governor Northam succeeded in getting a package of reforms through the state legislature. But we don't know, Rachel, really any details about how the shooter obtained this weapon.

MARTIN: NPR's Sarah McCammon. Thank you, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.