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Virginia Walmart shooting adds to nation’s gun toll

Due to Walmart’s size and geographic reach – it has more than 4,000 stores spread across the United States – the retailer is often the scene of crime, some of which is violent. During the coronavirus pandemic, some retailers and their employees said violence has increased in all types of stores.

Walmart said it has taken steps to increase security at some stores, such as installing cameras in parking lots and hiring off-duty police during busy shopping days.

The store has also been frequently at the center of the gun violence debate. Although the chain sells firearms, Walmart has imposed increasingly strict restrictions on gun sales in the wake of the mass shootings. In recent years, it has stopped selling handguns and some rifles, including AR-15s, and raised the minimum age to buy firearms to 21.

In Chesapeake, the Walmart provided a hub for many residents. Some people interviewed on Wednesday said they had visited a few days before, preparing for Thanksgiving. Others said they planned to visit either the night of the shooting or later in the week.

As of Wednesday evening, two victims remained in critical condition, hospital officials said. One of them was Sarah Walker, a Walmart employee and mother of three, who suffered five gunshot wounds, according to Jennie Walp, a friend of Ms Walker.

“She was always a force to be reckoned with, determined to work hard to provide for her children and always good at a laugh,” Ms Walp said. “It’s really shocking to have it hit so close to home, with the ongoing violence that continues to happen across our country.”

Reporting was provided by Michael Corkery, Maggie Astor, Jesus Jimenez, Christine Chung, Jenna Russell and Rich Griset. Kitty Bennett contributed research.


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