Teenage employee among 6 killed in Virginia Walmart shooting
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — A 16-year-old helping his family. A custodian and father of two. A mother with wedding plans. A happy-go-lucky guy. A longtime employee.
That’s how friends and family described some of the six people killed at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, when a manager opened fire with a handgun before an employee meeting. Authorities released the name of the sixth person killed, a 16-year-old boy, Friday morning. The five adult victims were identified late Wednesday.
Here are some details about those who were lost:
Fernando Chavez-Barron, 16, of Chesapeake
Family and friends dressed in white honored Chavez-Barron at a vigil in the Walmart parking lot on Thursday night. His friends told The Virginian-Pilot that it was hard to believe that he was gone.
Family friend Rosy Perez told The New York Times that the teen attended a local high school while working the overnight shift at Walmart to assist his family.
“He wanted to help a little bit,” Perez said. “He was a very good child.”
Kellie Pyle, 52, of Chesapeake
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.”
Pyle had adult children in Kentucky who will be traveling to Virginia in the wake of the tragedy, Spencer said.
Pyle moved back to her native Norfolk in May after reconnecting with her high school sweetheart and got a job at the Walmart recently, her cousin Billy Pillar-Gibson told The Washington Post. He remembered Pyle’s sarcastic sense of humor and called her his best friend.
“We grew up in a crazy family, and we understood each other,” he said. “I don’t remember life without her.”
Brian Pendleton, 38, of Chesapeake
Pendleton made sure to be punctual. Although his shift as a custodian started at 10:30 p.m., he was in the break room when the shooting started just after 10, 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 Wednesday. “He liked his coworkers.”
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, who was identified as the gunman.
“He just didn’t like my son,” Johnson said. “He would tell me that he (Bing) would give him a hard time.”
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,” Johnson said. “I always tell him to call me when gets off work.”
As she was getting ready for bed, Johnson got a call from a family friend telling her there was a shooting at the Walmart.
“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.”
Lorenzo Gamble, 43, of Chesapeake
Gamble was a custodian on the overnight shift and had worked at Walmart for 15 years, The Washington Post reported.
His parents Linda and Alonzo Gamble said he loved spending time with his two sons.
“He just kept to himself and did his job,” Linda Gamble said. “He was the quiet one of the family.”
His mother said 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
Blevins was a Norfolk Admirals hockey fan and enjoyed photography and collecting coins, daughter Cassandra Yeats told The New York Times.
“He never missed a single day of work,” she said. “He loved his family and supported everyone.”
Blevins was a longtime member of the store’s team that set prices and arranged merchandise. Former co-worker Shaundrayia Reese, who said she 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.
Tyneka Johnson, 22, of Portsmouth
Theodore Johnson, 41, told The New York Times that his cousin lived with her mother.
“She was young and wanted to make her own money,” he said.
When Johnson attended Western Branch High School, Casheba Cannon tutored the student with dreams of college and a supportive family, Cannon told The Washington Post.
“Education was in the forefront. Her family did whatever they had to do to make sure she got assistance,” Cannon said.
Johnson was willing to work to better herself, but she was also cheerful, helped younger students and “gelled” with everyone she encountered at Cannon’s Blessed Tutoring Services, she said. Johnson had a sense of style and love for music and dancing.
“She was that kid. When she came to tutoring, she was very well put together,” Cannon said. “Tyneka was a light in a dim room.”
A makeshift memorial to Johnson was placed in a grassy area outside the Walmart, with the words “Our Hearts are with you” and a basket of flowers.
The remembrance included a cluster of blue, white and gold balloons tied to a tree, alongside a stark yellow line of police tape.
Schoenbaum reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report. Kelleher contributed to this report from Honolulu.