This week’s youngest victim mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, is a 16-year-old employee who allegedly used his first salary to buy his mother a present before he was killed two days before Thanksgiving.
Fernando Chavez-Barron, along with five other colleagues, was shot dead Tuesday night when a manager opened fire in an employee break room during a meeting before killing himself, according to a social media post by the Chesapeake town who publicly identified the teenager on Friday.
As authorities work to learn more about the shooter, including publicly post a note found on his phone after the shooting, friends of the slain 16-year-old are in mourning.
Those who knew Fernando said CNN Affiliate WTKR that he had just started working at Walmart and had used his first paycheck to buy a present for his mother.
Fernando’s friend Joshua Trejo-Alvarado said he was still in disbelief that he was leaving.
“I’m at a loss for words and speechless that it was him,” Trejo-Alvarado told WTKR. “I hoped everything was a dream until today. I wish he was still here with me. I prayed last night with all my family for him. We also have flowers and candles to home for him.
Trejo-Alvarado texted and called Fernando but received no response, he said. Later, he called his friend’s brother, who told him that Fernando had not survived, WTKR reported.
“He was always outgoing with everyone he met. He was kind,” Trejo-Alvarado said.
Five other people at Walmart were killed, including Randy Blevins, 70, Lorenzo Gamble, 43, Tyneka Johnson, 22, Brian Pendleton, 38, and Kellie Pyle, 52.
On Thanksgiving Day, the community gathered at a makeshift memorial growing outside the store to honor the lives lost in yet another mass shooting that turned a staple of everyday life into a gruesome crime scene. Two people remain in hospital, including one in critical condition, the city said Thursday.
In honor of the victims, Chesapeake City officials are planning a vigil at 6 p.m. Monday in City Park.
Also on Monday, city council leaders will hold a special meeting confirming an emergency declaration that will “release funds to support recovery” after the shooting, according to the city’s Twitter account on Friday. The post did not specify how the funding would be used.
Since the shooting, authorities have been trying to determine the motive for the sudden eruption of gunfire at a workplace two days before Thanksgiving. Officials on Friday published details of the shooter’s phone writings obtained after the tragedy.
The writings – titled ‘Death note’ – found on the shooter’s phone contained grievances against people in his life, including some colleagues, according to the city’s Twitter account Friday.
The note mentions God, the Holy Spirit and how the author felt mocked by his “associates” – a job title Walmart uses for some of its employees.
“Associates gave me evil smiles, laughed at me and celebrated my downfall on the last day. That’s why they suffer the same fate as me,” the note reads.
“I wish I could have saved everyone from myself,” the note continues. “My God, forgive me for what I’m about to do.”
The city released the memo in a series of tweets, redacting the names of those mentioned. None of the victims of the shooting were among the redacted names, police said.
When asked if the shooter had complained about his colleagues, a statement from Walmart said: ‘Nothing can justify taking innocent lives. We continue to focus on grieving families and supporting our associates during this difficult time. »
The weapon used to carry out the killings is a 9mm gun, which the shooter legally purchased on the day of the shooting, the city said.
A search of the shooter’s home uncovered a box of ammunition and “various items with reference to the 9mm handgun (box, receipt, other papers),” the city said in a tweet.
The shooter, who was identified as Andre Bing, 31, was described by colleagues as someone who previously displayed strange and threatening behavior.
Shaundraya Reese, who worked with Bing from 2015 to 2018, described him as a loner.
“He always said the government was watching him. He didn’t like social media and he kept black tape on his phone’s camera. Everyone always thought something was wrong with him,” Reese said.
Another former colleague, Joshua Johnson, worked at Walmart until 2019 and said Bing made threats.
“He said if he got fired from his job he would fight back and people would remember who he was,” Johnson said.
Reese and Johnson said they did not report any concerns about Bing’s behavior to management.
Walmart employees had just clocked in for their night shift Tuesday when they saw a manager standing in the doorway, pointing a gun at them in the break room. But the ominous picture had not settled for some employees, including Briana Tyler, who had just been hired at the store.
“It still hadn’t really marked the fact that it was real. Because I thought it was like some kind of simulation, like that’s what we do if we have an active shooter,” Tyler told CNN. “And the reason I think that was because I recognized his face.”
But reality set in when she saw her colleagues being shot.
“He just had a blank look on his face and he just literally looked around the room and just shot and there were people falling to the floor,” Tyler said. “Everyone was screaming, panting. He just walked away after that and continued all over the store and kept shooting.
Hear what the Walmart shooter said to this survivor
As the shooter walked away from the break room, employee Jessie Wilczewski hid under a table, she told CNN. She described seeing some of her co-workers on the ground or lying in chairs – some likely dead.
When the shooter returned to the break room, he told him to get out from under the table, Wilczewski said.
“He said, ‘Jessie, go home,'” said Wilczewski, mother of a 15-month-old.
As she got up and started to leave, she tried not to look at her colleagues – but the sound of blood hitting the floor haunted her, she said.
“The sound of the droplets, da-da-da-da, it goes on and on and on and on,” she told CNN earlier this week. “From the amount of blood that flowed from the different chairs – it made a rhythm. And that was one of the most unsettling things – I don’t think I’ll ever let go of that.
Wilczewski said the trauma she witnessed stayed with her after she fled.
“Never, ever in my life would I wish this on anyone,” Wilczewski said. “And it’s horrible because it doesn’t stop. It keeps replaying when you leave the stage. It doesn’t stop hurting so much. It doesn’t stop, and it sucks because you really want it. You just want that little bit of – that you had before all of this.