In wake of Walmart shooting, data shows workplaces are top target for active shooters

Data: Most mass shooting happen at workplace where shooter worked or had been fired

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police in Chesapeake, Virginia, just outside of Norfolk, said there’s no clear motive as to why a Walmart manager would open fire inside the superstore Tuesday night.

He killed six people and then himself, injuring several more, according to police. Investigators withheld identifying the shooter publicly until his family had been notified.

“Our 911 Dispatch Center received the first call at 10:12 p.m. last night,” Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky told reporters Wednesday morning. “The first officers arrived on scene within two minutes at 10:14 and entered the store approximately 2 minutes later.”

Solesky said the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would help with the investigation.

The store in Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city, was busy just before the attack Tuesday night as people stocked up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, a shopper told a local TV station.

Employee Briana Tyler said the overnight stocking team of 15 to 20 people had just gathered in the break room to go over the morning plan. She said the meeting was about to start, and a team leader said: “All right guys, we have a light night ahead of us,” when another team leader, who was identified by Walmart as Andre Bing, turned around and opened fire on the staff.

“It is by the grace of God that a bullet missed me,” Tyler said. “I saw the smoke leaving the gun, and I literally watched bodies drop. It was crazy.”

Officials said on the city’s Twitter account that three of the dead, including the gunman, were found in the break room. One of the slain victims was found near the front of the store. Three others were taken to hospitals where they died of their wounds.

It’s another mass shooting across America, just days after police say a gunman killed five people at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs, causing people to worry that nowhere is safe.

Many are asking if this could have been prevented.

“In most of these cases there were warning signs,” said Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, a Jacksonville clinical psychologist. “Somebody saw something that was concerning and didn’t say something.”

He notes mass shooters typically show outward behavior days, weeks, even years before their attacks. He said there are typical profiles of active shooters, though this isn’t always the case and the types aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The first type is someone who is psychopathic or antisocial and they have a vendetta against someone,” he said. “The second type is paranoid schizophrenia. And the third type is someone who has been chronically traumatized.”

Across the country, there’s a lot of talk about mass shootings at schools, churches and big public gatherings, and rightly so. However, data shows that most mass shooters target workplaces, offices where they either currently work or had recently worked and been fired.

REPORT: Key findings from The Violent Project’s Mass Shooting Database

The News4JAX I-TEAM looked at an analysis from The Violence Project which shows nearly a third (31.5%) of mass shootings have happened in the workplace. The motivation?

Researchers say the top is an employment issue, then interpersonal conflict, followed by economic and legal problems.

Seventy-six percent of shooters showed signs of crisis, and 47% had leaked plans before the attack

So what do people need to be looking out for?

“Chronic absenteeism, somebody that is complaining over and over again, a dramatic shift in behavior, they’re using alcohol and drugs at work,” D’Arienzo said.

He added stress around the holidays can make things worse.

He wanted to reiterate that staff need to practice “see something, say something” and authorities must take threats seriously.

The Violence Project's Analysis of Workplace Mass Shootings. (The Violence Project)

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.