EL PASO, Texas — A family of four who survived a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas is accusing Walmart of failing to provide adequate security to protect its customers.
Jessica and Guillermo Garcia along with their two children claim the retailer did not employ security guards to patrol the store, according to a lawsuit filed last week against Walmart, Inc and Walmart Stores Texas, LLC in El Paso County district court.
Police say Patrick Crusius, 21, opened fire on August 3 at a Walmart store in El Paso, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more. Federal authorities have said they’re treating the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.
The couple was shopping at the store when they were shot multiple times “as their children watched in horror,” the attorneys representing the family said in a joint statement.
Jessica Garcia was initially hospitalized and has since then been released. Her husband remains in critical condition, attorneys Robert Ammons and Patrick Luff said.
Guillermo Garcia has undergone multiple surgeries in the past month after at least one bullet hit his spine during the shooting, Ammons and Luff said.
In the lawsuit, the family says the retailer had an obligation to “provide security to patrol and monitor the entrances and common areas of the store” but it failed to do so.
The couple’s injuries “would not have occurred but for the negligence, gross negligence and premises liability of the Walmart respondents,” the lawsuit said.
It doesn’t indicate whether the family seeks monetary damages. But they are requesting a restraining order requiring Walmart, which has begun renovating the store, to preserve evidence from the shooting.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company will respond to the complaint once they are served with the document.
“This tragic event will be with us forever and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted. Safety is a top priority and we care deeply about our associates and customers,” Hargrove said. “We preserved what information we have, and we’ve worked meticulously with federal and local authorities as they documented everything that took place on August 3.”
Ammons said his law firm is also seeking information about Walmart’s security procedures.
“We are also requesting information about Wal-Mart’s security practices, including how the El Paso store was rated on Wal-Mart’s highly secretive risk-scoring and crime-database systems,” he said in the statement. “We also want to know whether El Paso Wal-Mart managers altered store security policies in response to a hostage situation and shooting that took place in 2016 at a Wal-Mart in Amarillo, Texas.”
During that incident, Walmart employee Mohammad Moghaddam took the manager and another employee hostage after a confrontation regarding a dispute over a promotion. He was killed by police during a SWAT raid after he barricaded himself inside the store, city official said.