“A lot of people didn’t make it out.” Walmart mass shooting survivor reflects on 1 year remembrance

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (WAVY) — “I was just like, God, please like, just let me get out of this,” said Myles Whittaker.

Whitaker is a Norfolk State University senior from Virginia Beach.

He remembers every gruesome detail from Nov. 22, 2022. The day six of his colleagues were shot and killed at the Chesapeake Walmart on Sam’s Circle.

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“I got to work at like 10 o’clock, the shift is from 10 to 7 so I got to work. So right when we get to work, we have a group meeting,” Whitaker said.

He said around 15 people were in that meeting. They were the overnight stocking crew. A manager was talking to the group, then the gunman walked in.

“He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t give no warning, basically he just start shooting,” Whitaker said. “He was just like shooting in all different directions. And so yeah, I took like, grabbed the chair. I went under the table and like shielded myself. Kind of like on the floor while he was still shooting. And like people were getting hit.”

The shooter also worked at Walmart and was a supervisor.

“Everybody told me that he was the manager to look out for,” Whitaker said.

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At the time of the shooting, Whitaker had only worked at Walmart for about a month.

Whitaker said he didn’t think he could escape with the gunman in the room.

“So when he left the room, I was like looking around and I was just like, ‘I can’t stay here’,” Whitaker said.

He described what he remembers hearing.

“All you could hear was of course the gunshots and you heard people moving chairs. People are just trying to get out the way. So all you heard was chairs, rumbling like, tables falling. I didn’t really hear people screaming. I heard people like gasp like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

Whitaker then ran out from a different door. He could still hear the gunman shooting in the store.

“To get out that room literally had to like step over people’s bodies. It was very graphic, blood everywhere,” he said.

The six people who did not make it out the store were Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Lorenzo Gamble, Randy Blevins, Tyneka Johnson, and Fernando Chavez-Barron.

“When I went to Brian’s funeral. I thought, ‘this could have been my funeral, you know,'” Whitaker said. “Brian’s funeral, that’s when I realized I was a survivor.”

Whitaker found out after the shooting that Pendleton was a distant relative by marriage. He remembers their last work conversation.

“He was very jokey,” Whitaker said. “Literally moments before it [the shooting] happened. I had like, I think, I had got some stuff from like the vending machine and he [Brian] was just like, ‘why are you ain’t give me one?’ He was very playful. He really was the life of the overnight,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said for the first time since the shooting, he will return on the one year rememberance.

“[To] take the space in,” he said.

He is a drama and theatre major at NSU. On the one year remembrance of the shooting he released a song and video about what he survived. The song is called Nov. 22.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared for my life. Images in my head that keep me up all night,” Whitaker said in the song. “Thinking to myself what if he didn’t miss, when they say the names what if I was on that list.”

Click here for WAVY.com’s extensive coverage of the mass shooting.

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