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At least five of the people killed late Tuesday at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., were employees of the store, including several who were part of a tight-knit overnight crew preparing to take the floor as a busy shopping day came to a close just two days before Thanksgiving.
The police identified the six people slain in the shooting as Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins, Tyneka Johnson and a 16-year-old boy whose name they are withholding because of his age. Walmart said the five adults all worked at the store; the company declined to say whether the teenager was an employee.
Relatives of several victims said they were too distraught to share memories of their loved ones on Wednesday, but several former employees at the Chesapeake Walmart fondly remembered their co-workers who were among the dead.
Josh Johnson said he had worked at the store for two and a half years, leaving shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, and viewed Mr. Pendleton, a maintenance employee, as an older brother who always remained humble and was among the store’s hardest workers.
“If you had any problems, you could go to Brian,” Mr. Johnson said. “He would go to bat for you and help you with anything.”
Shaundrayia Reese, who said she worked at the store from around 2015 to 2018, was particularly close to Mr. Pendleton, she said.
“He never raised his voice, never had a bad bone in his body,” Ms. Reese said. “Nobody could ever say anything bad about that man. He was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Ms. Reese also recalled working alongside Mr. Blevins, a longtime member of the store’s modular team, which set prices and arranged merchandise. She knew him fondly as “Mr. Randy,” she said.
The overnight team at the Chesapeake Walmart was “a family,” Ms. Reese said, adding that employees relied on each other and maintained a sense of camaraderie, despite work that she said was often thankless and exhausting.
Sheelagh McNeill, Kitty Bennett and Kirsten Noyes contributed research.