Walmart shooting claims teen, young woman, father, mother
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 a Nov. 22 employee meeting.
Here are some details about those who were lost:
Randy Blevins, 70, of Chesapeake
Blevins started working for Walmart in the early 1990s after the five-and-dime he owned with his wife, Teresa, went under, his stepdaughter Cassandra Yeatts told The Associated Press.
“When Walmart came to town, they kind of drove their business out of business,” Yeatts said. “My mom contacted the manager of the Walmart at Sam’s Drive and said, ‘Hey, you put us out of business and my husband needs a job.'”
Blevins had an interview and got hired on the spot as an overnight stocker, a job that included unloading trucks, Yeatts said.
He liked the third shift because he had the days to himself. He attended Norfolk Admirals hockey games and watched professional wrestling and Washington Commanders football games on TV.
Blevins also took snapshots of people and places in nearby Isle of Wight County, according to a 1996 story in the Isle of Wight Citizen. The pictures were put on postcards and sold at a different five-and-dime that his brother managed.
Blevins never missed a day of work, his stepdaughter said.
“He never had any complaints about anyone that he worked with, and he enjoyed going into work,” Yeatts said.
Blevins leaves behind three stepdaughters. And although he and his wife Teresa Blevins divorced, they remained best friends, Yeatts said.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas were his favorite holidays,” she said.
Fernando Chavez-Barron, 16, of Chesapeake
Chavez-Barron was an honors student in the 11th grade who had just begun driving and had taken a part-time job to help out his family, according to city officials and a GoFundMe page set up for the family. The page’s organizer, Tamara Nelson, confirmed by phone that the page was authentic, but she declined to comment further.
“An outstanding son and excellent big brother, he loved building with Legos,” the GoFundMe page states. “He will always be remembered as humble, loving, responsible and hardworking young man. His loss is felt, not only by his family, but by so many others in his community.”
Chesapeake City Councilman Don J. Carey III said during a candlelight vigil on Monday night that Chavez-Barron “loved taking care of his family and adored his parents. He started working so that he could be responsible and lessen the burden for his family. He was so responsible, supportive and always helped his dad.
“His dad said, ‘He was my best friend,'” Carey said.
Kellie Pyle, 52, of Chesapeake
Pyle grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, and moved back to the Hampton Roads region from Kentucky after reconnecting with her high school sweetheart on Facebook.
She and Brian Baker planned to marry next year.
“I’ve never seen her this happy, except when she talked about her children,” said a cousin, William Pillar-Gibson.
“This was not just a new chapter for her — it was the best chapter,” Pillar-Gibson told the AP. “She was a grandmother. Her children were thriving. She was with the love of her life. She was back home.”
Pyle had two adult children in their 20s and a young granddaughter who was “the light of Kellie’s life,” her cousin said.
Pyle had been the caregiver for her parents when their health failed and for her brother when he had a stroke.
“She handled everything,” Pillar-Gibson said. “When something needed to be done, she did it. And she experienced a lot of loss.”
Recently, Pyle was extending her generosity and caregiving to the mother of her fiance, Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer.
In a brief statement to the AP, Spencer said: “We love her … She was an awesome, kind individual — yes she was.”
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 AP last 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 company said in a statement Tuesday. His greatest joys “were football and spending time with his two sons.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said during Monday’s vigil that Gamble was “a man of few words” and “a man of strength, who loved and worked hard for his family.”
Linda Gamble, his mother, told the AP on Sunday that she hadn’t been able to do much of anything, including eat, because she missed him so much.
“It’s been really hard because I never, ever in a million years thought it would be my baby,” Gamble said. “He’s gone, but he will always be in my heart.”
Tyneka Johnson, 22, of Portsmouth
Johnson was “full of life” and her smile could “light up any room,” Carey, the Chesapeake councilman, said at Monday’s vigil.
“She was so loved and will be missed dearly,” Carey said. “Her mom said, ‘I feel like my best friend has been taken from me.'”
Walmart said in its statement that Johnson “loved music, dancing and dreamed of attending college soon.”
“Education was in the forefront. Her family did whatever they had to do to make sure she got assistance,” Casheba Cannon, who tutored Johnson while she was in high school, told The Washington Post.
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.
Cannon added: “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.
Kelleher reported from Honolulu and Schoenbaum reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. AP news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.
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