September 5, 2019 A Texas couple injured in the El Paso shooting has filed a lawsuit against Walmart where the deadly attack occurred — claiming it failed to protect them by not having any security guards at the store.
Reuters‘ reports that Jessica Garcia and Guillermo Garcia and their two children were shopping at the El Paso store when Patrick Crusius allegedly opened fired killing 22 people and injured 24 more, including the Garcias.
Guillermo Garcia remains hospitalized in critical condition after being shot in the spine, while Jessica Garcia was hospitalized and later released after being shot in the legs.
The lawsuit appears to be the first filed over the attack. Attorneys for the family argue in the lawsuit that Jessica Garcia and Guillermo Garcia’s injuries would not have occurred but for the negligence, gross negligence, and premises liability.
In the wake of the El Paso Walmart Shooting attack, there have been several other threats to commit mass murder at Walmart stores across the country. According to a Business Insider report, Walmart stores in Texas, Michigan and Florida were targeted with bomb threats over the past year.
The El Paso City Council has explored the possibility of requiring armed security guards for large stores and of requiring certain additional security features at store entrances.
A Walmart spokesman told the El Paso Times that despite the large crowd, there wasn’t any security guarding the store.
Burt P. Flickinger III, a retail consultant who has studied the Walmart said at the time of the shooting said there were 3,000 shoppers in the El Paso store — which is more than you would typically have at a Black Friday.
SOFT TARGETS and PUBLIC SAFETY
In the vast majority of incidents, the few minutes after an emergency occurs, whether it’s a workplace violence incident, mass shooting or terrorist attack, the first responders are not medical staff or law enforcement but security guards.
Approximately eighty-five percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure such as shopping malls, large retail stores, movie theaters and other soft targets are privately owned public space. Other than special events like the Super Bowl — public safety is left to the discretion of the management.
The role of the federal government in protecting the public is limited to suggestions and incentives such as tax breaks for businesses that invest in bolstering security for more than shoplifting events.
In December, 2010, Walmart joined several large retail shopping malls across the country to partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign. The campaign includes short videos in stores to remind shoppers to remain vigilant. Americans are encouraged to take an active role in protecting each other by reporting suspicious behavior.
PRIVATE SECURITY GUARDS
In the eighteen years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil, armed and trained private security guards remain an untapped resource in the United States. So what’s the problem? The better educated, properly trained and armed private security guard will require more pay. And it’s a hard sell to businesses or shopping mall managers to spend even a small percentage of the budget on preventative measures for an event that may never happen.
Currently, there is no law mandating retailers provide security guards. Soft targets are increasingly targets for domestic terrorist attack such as mass shootings. It’s time to change that.