The store in Chesapeake is now safe and will likely be closed for several days during the investigation, Officer Leo Kosinski said in the early hours of Wednesday.
It was not clear who the shooter was or what their motive might be.
“I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city,” Mayor Rick W. West said in a statement posted on the city's Twitter account. “Chesapeake is a tightknit community and we are all shaken by this news.”
A database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks every mass killing in America going back to 2006 shows this year has been especially bad. The U.S. has now had 40 mass killings so far this year, second to the 45 that occurred for all of 2019. The database defines a mass killing as at least four people killed, not including the killer.
Tuesday’s shooting also brought back memories of another at a Walmart in 2019, when a gunman opened fire at a store in El Paso, Texas, and killed 22 people.
Kosinski said he couldn’t say how the shooter died but that he didn’t believe police fired shots.
The shooting had apparently stopped when police arrived at the store in Chesapeake, which is Virginia’s second-largest city and lies next to the seaside communities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Sentara Healthcare, said in a text message that five patients from the Walmart were being treated at Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions weren’t immediately available.
Walmart tweeted early Wednesday that it was “shocked at this tragic event.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said in a tweet that he was “sickened by reports of yet another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake.”
State Sen. Louise Lucas echoed Warner's sentiment, tweeting that she was “absolutely heartbroken that America’s latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district."