As the nation’s psyche was shattered by yet another mass shooting in Chesapeake, Virginia, the moments of terror recounted by Walmart employee Jessie Wilczewski – who survived a Tuesday night attack that killed at least six people – reflected the position of hopelessness where America once again finds itself when it comes to gun violence.
“He had the gun up to my forehead,” Wilczewski told CNN’s Erica Hill Wednesday night on “Erin Burnett OutFront,” describing the moment when she encountered the suspect, who was identified by Walmart as an “overnight team lead” at the store. “He told me to go home.”
“I got up real slow and I tried not to look at anybody on the ground,” Wilczewski said. She made her way through the double doors out to the egg aisle, gripping her bag and wondering if the suspect would shoot her in the back. She began running and didn’t stop until she reached her car.
This is a year when President Joe Biden and congressional lawmakers managed to forge bipartisan compromise on a package of gun safety laws after years of inaction. States like Virginia and Colorado – where a gunman opened fire and killed five people over the weekend at an LBGTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs – have passed robust gun measures intended to prevent these events from occurring. Lawmakers from both parties have spent countless hours on the campaign trail vowing to address the nation’s mental health crisis. Things were supposed to be getting better.
And yet, the nation is again trying to come to terms with another senseless tragedy.
Wilczewski, who was in her fifth night on the job at Walmart, found herself in the break room with a gunman wondering if she was going to make it out alive, and then – when she did – wondering why her life had been spared when so many other innocent ones were not. It is a recurring question that Americans find themselves asking each time a mass shooting occurs.
“I don’t know why he let me go and, yes, it’s bothering me really, really bad,” Wilczewski said. “It doesn’t stop replaying when you leave the scene. It doesn’t stop hurting as much. It doesn’t stop.”