Walmart employee complained about suspect's behavior months before mass shooting: Lawsuit
A complaint about the employee was filed before the shooting, the suit said.
A victim of the mass shooting at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, filed a lawsuit against the company on Tuesday. The suit accused Walmart of being negligent by hiring and continuing to employ the suspected shooter despite its knowledge of his alleged disturbing interactions with staff and a written complaint the victim submitted to the company about the suspect's behavior more than two months before the shooting.
The victim alleged Walmart knew or should have known about the gunman's "violent propensities," according to the suit. The suit also accuses Walmart of failing to "enact any preventative measures to keep Walmart customers and employees safe."
Andre Bing, who had been an employee at Walmart since 2010 allegedly opened fire on a staff break room, on Nov. 22, killing six people and injuring several others. The suspect died on the scene from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.
Donya Prioleau, an employee who had worked at Walmart for over a year and was in the room during the shooting, is now seeking $50 million in damages from the company.
"The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team. Our deepest sympathies go out to our associates and everyone impacted, including those who were injured. We are focused on supporting all our associates with significant resources, including counseling. We are reviewing the Complaint and will be responding as appropriate with the court," Walmart said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday about Prioleau's lawsuit.
Prioleau claims in the suit Bing had made disturbing comments to other employees leading up to the shooting, in one instance allegedly asking Prioleau if she liked guns.
The suit alleged Bing had asked coworkers if they had received active shooter training. It also alleged Bing had a "personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and kept a 'kill list' of potential targets prior to the shooting," citing evidence gathered by law enforcement.
Before the shooting, the gunman had allegedly told store employees, including managers, that if he were ever fired, he would retaliate and "people will remember my name," according to the lawsuit.
After seeing Bing's "bizarre and threatening behavior" Prioleau said she submitted a formal written complaint to Walmart on Sept. 10. She claimed that the suspect had harassed her for "being poor and being short," commented on her age and called her a "b****" under his breath as she walked past.
"Bing's behavior prior to the shooting put Walmart on notice that Mr. Bing was violent and could harm others," according to the lawsuit.
Prioleau alleged Walmart acknowledged the complaint but then continued to employ the suspect as a shift lead, according to the suit.
Prioleau's mother allegedly came to the store to speak with the store manager, Alysia Mixon, because she was concerned for her daughter's safety, but Mixon told her "there was nothing that could be done about Mr. Bing because he was liked by management," according to the lawsuit.
Bing had been previously disciplined "on several occasions" and demoted by management for his cruel and inappropriate behavior "making his violent outburst predictable," the lawsuit alleged.
"Walmart knew or should have known about Mr. Bing's disturbing and threatening behavior, but failed to terminate Mr. Bing, restrict his access to common areas, conduct a thorough background investigation, or subject him to a mental health examination," the lawsuit alleged.
On the day of the shooting, Prioleau alleges she witnessed several of her coworkers being shot and tripped as she ran out of the room to escape, injuring her knee and elbow. Prioleau alleged she was severely traumatized by being shot at and witnessing the deaths of her coworkers, according to the lawsuit.
She now suffers, among other things, sleeplessness, flashbacks, severe anxiety and nightmares, according to the lawsuit.
"While the cruelty of murdering six defenseless people is truly unimaginable, Ms. Prioleau alleges that she and her coworkers had been concerned for months that such an incident could occur at any time. Our client alleges Walmart acknowledged her written complaint alleging harassment, but continued to employ the perpetrator. As workplace shootings and violence become horrifyingly common, employers have a responsibility to understand the warning signs and take threats seriously in order to protect their employees and customers," Morgan and Morgan, the law firm representing Prioleau, said in a statement.