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Gunman Shoots and Kills Six and Wounds Four at Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia; Chesapeake Officials Hold Press Conference on Walmart Shooting; Gunman Confirmed to be Walmart Employee at Time of Shooting; Police: 6 People Killed, 4 Hurt In Mass Shooting At Virginia Walmart; Busiest Travel Day Of The Year Underway For U.S. Roads and Skies. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2022 - 08:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We are so glad that you could join us. It is Wednesday, November 23rd. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING.

And we have a horrific story that is happening. There is no end in sight to the carnage. The nation still mourning one mass shooting when we learn about another. A gunman opening fire overnight inside a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. This is what we know at this hour. Police confirming now that six people were killed inside the store. The shooter is also dead.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We don't know if there was a standoff with the police or whether officers fired a shot. The gunman's motives still unclear this morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And police are going to be holding a news conference any moment now. When it begins, we are going take you there live to hopefully get more details on what Poppy just laid out. Moments ago, we did hear from the governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He tweeted "Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning. Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities." Obviously, they've been reeling now from this one but also the UVA shooting that happened.

LEMON: Let's get straight to that press conference now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- I am the public information officer for the Chesapeake Police Department. Thank you for coming out this morning. This is going to be our press update for the mass shooting that occurred at the Walmart last night on Battlefield Boulevard. I'd like to introduce you, who is standing up here with me on my far left, that is the commonwealth attorney, Matt Hamel. Matt, common spelling, Hamel is H-m-e-l.

Next to him with the state police is Captain Greg Mathias. He's the division commander for the state police. Greg is common spelling. Mathias is M-a-t-h-i-a-s. Standing next to him is Sheriff Jim O'Sullivan Jim common spelling, O'Sullivan is O-apostrophe-S-u-l-l-i- v-a-n. Standing next to him is fire chief Ed Elliott. Elliott is E-l- l-i-o-t-t. Standing next to him is police chief Mark Solesky, M-a-r-k, S-o-l-e-s-k-y. And then to my immediate left is our city manager, Chris Price, common spelling.

I'm going to ask the city manager to come up and five some remarks. After that Chief Solesky is going to come up and give an update to the incident that occurred, then after that we'll take some questions. For future updates after that, we're going to be posting to our city's Twitter account, which is @AboutChesapeake. It's the official Twitter account for the city of Chesapeake. So with that, Mr. Price.

CHRIS PRICE, CHESAPEAKE CITY MANAGER: Thank you. I know it pains all of us to be together on this day of incredible tragedy and unimaginable sadness. Chesapeake is 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 and in the days ahead, but we will get through this.

Mayor West was unable to join us today. He's tested positive for COVID, but he has asked me to read a statement. "I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place last night in our city. My prayers are with all of those affected, the victims, their family, their friends, and their co-workers. I'm grate of for the quick actions taken by our first responders who rushed to the scene. 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."

Before I turn it over to Chief Solesky, I'd like to make a few remarks. First of all, I'm very, very proud of the response of our public safety team and our other first responders, including those in human services and mental health. You hope a day like this never comes, but we train for it, we practice, we talk about it, we discuss, we learn lessons from other places. We try to put those lessons to good use, hoping that those lessons will never have to be put to use. But it's kept us in good standing today, and hopefully we'll continue to do so in the challenging days ahead.

I also wanted to let everyone know that we as a city and a leadership team have been in very close communication throughout the evening with Mayor West and with the Chesapeake City Council. They have been fully briefed on everything that's going on from our response to what's moving forward in the days ahead, as well as Governor Youngkin and his staff, the attorney general and his team, members of our federal and state delegations, several of whom are here today.

And I want to let you all know that we are united in our support for the victim, their families, their coworkers, and our entire community. And we do ask that you pray with us for everyone impacted by this tragedy.

I'll now turn it over to Chief Solesky.

CHIEF MARK SOLESKY, CHESAPEAKE POLICE: Good morning. We are truly saddened at the tragedy that took place in our community last night.


And we are all praying for the family, friends, and co-workers of everyone that's affected by this senseless violence. I want to say to them that your Chesapeake community is here for you and will continue to be here for you during the difficult days, months, and years ahead.

Chesapeake first responders are well trained for such incidents. They responded immediately and will continue to do the work of investigating and asking questions in the days to come. We also appreciate the multi-agency response we received.

I'll now go over a timeline of events for you. Our 911 dispatch center received the first call at 10:12 p.m. last night. The first officers arrived on scene within two minutes at 10:14 and entered the store approximately two minutes later, at 10:16. The first responding officers entered the store, and the scene was declared safe by 11:20 p.m.

I would like to express our sincere thanks for the immediate assistance we received from the Chesapeake Fire Department, the Chesapeake Commonwealth Attorney's Office, the Virginia Beach Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the FBI and the ATF.

While our investigation continues, we can tell you the following. Six victims have died. Four victims are in area hospitals with conditions unknown at this time. And the suspect is dead from what we believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Chesapeake police SWAT team executed a 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. Again, while this investigation is ongoing, I'll go ahead and take a few questions now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us the identity of the shooter?

SOLESKY: We cannot tell you the identity of the shooter because his next of kin has not been identified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have been a lot of reports that the shooter was an employee of the Walmart. Can you confirm that?

SOLESKY: Yes, we can confirm that.


SOLESKY: He wanted to know was the shooter an employee of Walmart and we were able to confirm that.


SOLESKY: I can't confirm that. You have to check with Walmart to be sure.


SOLESKY: A pistol is all we're able to say at this time. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you confirm or do you know if these attacks

were targeted against any employees or if this individual was shooting at random?

SOLESKY: We don't know at this time. The investigation is still ongoing so there's no clear motive at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know if the victims are also all employees?

SOLESKY: We can't confirm that at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was the suspect wearing any type of -- what he was wearing, was there any accessories or ammo on the person?

SOLESKY: I don't have that information, I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was said that the shooting happened in the breakroom. Were they -- was the door locked behind this individual after the shooting started? Can you share any more information about what happened inside the room at that time?

SOLESKY: I cannot. Like I said, the investigation is still ongoing. We'll be processing that scene for days, so we're really not sure, and I'd hate to put out misinformation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any information on the shooter's background --

SOLESKY: No, ma'am, not at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he known to police?

SOLESKY: Not that I'm aware of at this time. Like I said, the investigation is still ongoing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were no other weapons besides the pistol?

SOLESKY: Not that I'm aware of at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can you tell us approximately where in the store the suspect's body was located?

SOLESKY: I cannot. Not at this time. I didn't go in the store myself. And like I said, it's still being --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still in the break room --

SOLESKY: Yes, I don't know that at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any bodies outside?

SOLESKY: I can't confirm that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you confirm that the shooter was a male, I gather from what you're saying?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell the shooter's age?

SOLESKY: I don't have that at this time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to ask, do you know, was the shooter dead by the time officers found the suspect?

SOLESKY: As far as I know, he was, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two questions here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, I believe first we said there were five, or we heard that there were five victims in the hospital. Do we know if one of those people have been released since you said four?

SOLESKY: I don't know that. I know there's four there now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the other thing that I have, I'm hearing that the suspect may have been playing some type of loud hardcore type of music. Have you heard that, or can you confirm that?

SOLESKY: I can't confirm that at this time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the scene was declared safe around 11:20. Can you walk us through how -- reports that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

SOLESKY: Yes, I said at this time we believe it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you -- you gave us the timeline of police response. Do you know for how long the shooter himself was active in the store?

SOLESKY: I don't have that information at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have the range of the age of the victims?

SOLESKY: I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens next at this time?

SOLESKY: Well, the investigation is still ongoing, like I said, so we have to process the scene, which could take days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know approximately how many customers were inside the Walmart at the time?

SOLESKY: I don't have that information, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the store was open? SOLESKY: Yes, it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it close at 11:00?

SOLESKY: I don't know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, a witness said that the suspect was --

SOLESKY: I cannot confirm that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there a security guard, a Walmart security guard on the premises at all?

SOLESKY: Not that I'll aware of. You'd have to reach out to Walmart for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us, sir, what city the suspect is from?

SOLESKY: I don't have that information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he local or --

SOLESKY: I'm sorry. I don't want to give you misinformation. I don't have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the shooter working at the time or was it a day off and he just showed up? Do you know if he was on the clock?

SOLESKY: I can't confirm that. You'd have to reach out to Walmart for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he was a current employee of the Walmart?

SOLESKY: As far as I know he was a current employee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you may not be able to answer this as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know if the Walmart is going to be closed? I imagine it's going to be closed for some time.

SOLESKY: Yes. While we process the scene, it will stay closed. We're in cooperation with the FBI processing the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The condition of the victims, are they critical --

SOLESKY: I'm sorry, I don't have that information. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know if they're all at one hospital or multiple hospitals?

SOLESKY: Area hospitals is all I have. Yes, ma'am? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a reason the next of kin hasn't been notified yet?

SOLESKY: I don't know why. Whether or not they're having trouble figure out who his next of kin are and where they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that you don't believe the community is in danger. What leads you to believe that? Why is there no further threat? Was this person acting alone?

SOLESKY: As far as we know, yes, and he is deceased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, any further information -- we'll conclude that at this point. So any information going forward will be pushed out through our city's official Twitter account, which is @AboutChesapeake.


LEMON: You are watching CNN this morning and you're looking at the press conference that is happening in Chesapeake, Virginia. Six people killed overnight at a Walmart, and plus the shooter. Police confirming there that the shooter is an employee. Not sure if he was on the clock at the time. Not giving very much information about him, saying that the next of kin has not been notified, but we do know six victims here, four in the hospital according to the police chief there. They said that they executed a search warrant on the suspect's home and they are still getting information. It is not confirmed whether it was a supervisor, someone said that on the air earlier, but again, no confirmation there.

A pistol they believe that he used, and they don't think that they found any other guns at this point, but of course this is all ongoing right now, this investigation. They're saying that this Walmart is closed and it will take them days to figure out what happened at the scene. And 10:12 p.m. the call came from 911, 10:14 the officers arrived, 10:16 they entered the store, and by 11:20 p.m. they said that the store was declared safe. By the time police got there, the suspect, they believe, had taken his own life with a gun. He was dead when they encountered the suspect.

HARLOW: We also -- we know six people were murdered by him. What we don't know is the condition of four victims. Four victims still in the hospital, condition unknown, which is obviously worrying. Normally with something like this, we would generally hear what sort of level they're at, so let's hope for the best. But we don't know.

So let's process this with our senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe, who is former deputy director of the FBI. Andy, thank you very much for being here. You listened to that press conference with us, so what struck you?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Poppy, it sounds like they are really on top of what they should be doing right now. Obviously, they had a quick and effective response to the scene last night, really very short time -- not much time delay between the 911 call and entry into the store.


They've now brought in their federal partners, ATF, who'll undoubtedly be running traces on the gun to understand every time that gun was purchased or may have changed hands, and how it ended up in the hands of the shooter. The FBI is there likely with their Evidence Response Team. They will kind of, you know, run point on preserving the evidence from what can only be described, I'm sure, is an incredibly gruesome and disturbing crime scene.

You know, the chief didn't give us a lot of -- a lot of information about anything, which, as we have all been down this road many, many times before, we know that's kind of standard practice. I suspect we'll hear more details as the day goes on, things that wouldn't, you know, have any kind of negative impact on the case to share once families have been notified about the identities of victims, and of course, the shooter. So, we'll stand by for that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And also, what struck me as they said that they had not identified -- they're not identifying the suspect yet, because they haven't identified next of kin. You know, it's been about nine or so hours since they said they determined the scene was safe there. Does that -- does that surprise you at all that they haven't yet been able to make contact with the next of kin yet, given they clearly know his details since he was an employee of the store?

MCCABE: Sure, yes. I'm sure they were able to identify him very quickly. Likely had -- you know, there may have been other people there who could have identified him. He may be had identification documents on him, or you can actually even identify people from fingerprints on the scene, even if those individuals are deceased. So, that's not a problem. But until we know this person's kind of the details of his life, he may have lived alone, he may not have any kind of clearly identifying information in his residence, which we know they've searched, that would point to individuals, family members, those people may be out of state, they may be hard to locate themselves. So, I think we're just looking at a little bit of a slightly longer delay in getting that, but I'm sure we'll get it pretty soon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Standby, Andrew McCabe, we may need you. We're going to -- as we're working through the details of this and press conference is happening just a short time ago in Chesapeake, Virginia about this gunman who killed six people at the Walmart there. And then, according to police, they believe he killed himself. I want to bring in CNN's Brian Todd now who was in the room. Brian, are you learning any new details from this since the press conference, and what did you pick up from what police are saying?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Don, there were some important gaps that were filled in by Police Chief Mark Solesky in this news conference. He gave a timeline of how this attack unfolded, saying that the first 911 calls came in at 12:00 -- 12:00 -- excuse me, 10:12 p.m. last night that the officers arrived on the scene two minutes later, 10:14 p.m., and entered the building at 10:16 p.m. So, from the 911 call to the time the officers entered the building was a total of four minutes. They declared the scene safe at 11:20.

He did confirm what we had heard from a law enforcement source that this was an employee of the store. That's who the shooter was. They are not giving the shooter's name because the shooter's next of kin have not been contacted yet. We do know that we -- something we didn't know before, the type of weapon used, it was a pistol. I asked -- we all asked a couple of times whether there were any other weapons involved, and the chief said he did not know of any other weapons involved. Again, this is a current employee. We do not know whether all of the victims were employees, the chief did not have that information. We're also chasing some information that one of the bodies might have been outside, because we have heard accounts of that. But again, the chief did not -- he was not able to kind of confirm any of that information yet.

We know that it took them several hours to process this crime scene, even after they declared it safe, Don, because they were combing through the Walmart trying to find out whether anybody was hiding, whether there were any other injured people in the building. And of course, this Walmart, like many of them, is a very large complex with rows upon -- you know, row upon row of merchandise, counters all over the place. And this store was currently open when this happened. He did not have the information of how many people were inside the building at the time.

LEMON: And didn't know whether he was on the clock or not. And I think it's important to point out. Still, no motive at this point. Just quickly, I think it -- listen, we would be derelict in not pointing out, Andrew, there have been 606 mass shootings this year alone. That's according to Gun Violence Archive. And we are just reeling from what happened in Colorado Springs.

MCCABE: Yes, Don, I mean, like we've had this conversation so many times. Look, the sad fact of life in America right now is anytime you go to your grocery store, you go to your place of worship, you go to your kid's school, you could be stepping into an incredibly lethal, destructive situation. And that is because we have far more guns in this country than we have -- than we have people.


There's, you know, more than one gun for every man, woman, and child alive in America today. We have four percent of the world's population, and something like 35 or 40 percent of it is firearms. So, this is something we can expect to continue experiencing for quite some time. And --

COLLINS: Yes, it's just awful to think about all those people, you know, doing last minute Thanksgiving shopping. That's what people were doing yesterday. I was --

LEMON: They're packed.

COLLINS: I went to a store myself, they're always crowded, and it's just heartbreaking.


MCCABE: That's right.

LEMON: Thanks for helping us analyze this, Brian Todd. Thanks for being on the scene there. We're going to check back with both of you in just moments.

COLLINS: This morning, we're also monitoring other major stories including a suspected terror attack in Jerusalem after a series of explosions, the White House is now weighing in on that. Also, COVID, Thanksgiving, gatherings, all of these happening. We're talking about new data on COVID boosters, and they may not be as effective as experts originally had hoped they would be. We will talk to the White House COVID-19 response coordinator about that, next.

LEMON: And the busiest travel day of the year is currently underway on the roads and in the skies. We're going to take you there.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Are you listening to us stuck in traffic? I hope not. Today is the busiest day of the year for travel in the U.S.

LEMON: I hope they're not watching this evening while driving.

HARLOW: Right. That's true. We hope you're cozy at home watching. But 50 million Americans will be on the move over Thanksgiving. Roads, airports all very crowded. Let's get to our colleague, Omar Jimenez. He joins us live from O'Hare International Airport. I've always had smooth flights out of O'Hare, that is not always the case for people, especially on a day like today. How long are the lines?


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, actually, things got a little better. When we first got here in that first wave of flights in the early morning, it was shoulder-to-shoulder, it was packed. People, I think, in some cases, we're surprised to see that we're looking at a level of people here that rivaled pre-pandemic 2019 levels. We talked to one woman who is on her way back to Texas to visit some family. And she said she was a little surprised by what she saw. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were totally thinking about getting here early, which I'm so glad we did, because it's even a little more crowded than we expected. So, just helping we make our flight. We gave ourselves two hours, so I hope that's enough.


JIMENEZ: Now, she's going to be among the 4.5 million Americans nationwide that are expected to travel or to fly, I should say, over this Thanksgiving period, which is up from last year, and is about 99 percent of the 2019 pre-pandemic levels. But as you mentioned before coming to me, the vast majority of people are going to be driving this holiday period. Also expected to be up from last year. So, hopefully, people are planning ahead. But for many people, they're doing it this Thanksgiving with a full family for the first time in years, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. That's really nice for so many folks to get to finally be together. Omar, Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you, friend. So, we're talking about being together. Health is on the minds of so many people this holiday. The threat of the so-called "tripledemic" is intensifying. A White House Health official will be with us to talk about it.

COLLINS: Plus, we have just gotten word that workers at the world's largest iPhone factory in China are clashing with police. We're live in China with a massive update on Foxconn ahead.