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Virginia Beach minister and 5/31 survivor offers support to Walmart survivors

Edward Weeden was inside the Municipal Center when a disgruntled employee killed 12 people. When he heard what happened in Chesapeake, he knew he needed to help.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — After a gunman shot and killed six people in a Chesapeake Walmart late Tuesday night, survivors are still grappling with what happened.

One Virginia Beach reverend said he knows what they’re going through.

Edward Weeden was inside the Virginia Beach Municipal Center when a disgruntled employee came in and started shooting, killing 12 people. 

It's a moment Edward Weeden will never forget.

"I look towards the stairway and I see the guy, Craddock, shooting at somebody in the stairs.," he recalled.

It’s something Weeden and the people in Virginia Beach are still grieving three years later.

"It doesn’t go away. It stays with you," he said. 

When he heard what happened at the Walmart in Chesapeake Tuesday night, he said it brought back those memories.

"It was like flashbacks," he said.

Weeden, an ordained minister, said he feels their pain.

"I can relate to what those people are going through. Just like us, it was a co-worker," he said. 

So, he wants to help. He said while still grieving and processing what happened, it’s so important to talk to someone.

"They should not try to do it on their own. If there’s groups available, go to groups," Weeden said.

Weeden said his phone is always on and his door is always open. He notes you don't need to be a Christian to reach out to him for help.

"I don’t have to know you. I’m human, I have a heart, I breathe, you know. I’ve been through what you’ve been through," he said. "I’m here to help you. I will help you the best I can."

Weeden said to give him a call or text him at (757) 679-7913. He also said you can reach out to him on Facebook. He said he'll drop whatever he's doing if you say you need help.

Weeden said it’s a sad reality that so many people now can relate to the survivors of yet another mass shooting.

Just after the shooting on Tuesday night, city leaders opened the Chesapeake Conference Center as a reunification center where families can find healthy ways to grieve and get counseling services. 

The Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center is opening its doors to provide counseling for free for anyone impacted.

“It’s very okay to feel that pain. In fact, I would, as a clinician, be concerned or cautious about people trying to block that pain," said Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center CEO Kurt Hooks. “It’s critical with adults and kids especially, to get them surrounded by people they trust, people they know that can help keep them safe and people that will listen."

Walmart set up an associate resource center for associates and their family members following the Chesapeake store's closure. The center will provide counseling, meals and a place to connect with each other. 

The center is at the Delta Hotel by Marriott at 725 Woodlake Drive for the next two weeks. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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