A Walmart Inc. employee who says she witnessed last week’s fatal shooting at a Virginia store filed a $50 million lawsuit against the company for allegedly continuing to employ the suspected gunman despite knowledge of past threats he’d made against fellow employees.
Multiple Walmart employees complained to the company about “bizarre and threatening behavior” exhibited by the alleged shooter — identified as Andre Bing, a supervisor at the store — in the months prior to the attack, according to the complaint filed Tuesday by Donya Prioleau in Chesapeake Circuit Court in Virginia.
“Despite Mr. Bing’s longstanding pattern of disturbing and threatening behavior, Walmart did not enact any preventative measures to keep Walmart customers and employees safe,” lawyers for Prioleau said in the complaint.
Walmart said it was “reviewing the complaint and will be responding as appropriate with the court.”
John Furner, the head of Walmart US, posted an online tribute to the victims of the attack on Tuesday, and said the store in Chesapeake would remain closed “for the foreseeable future.”
Bing, 31, killed six of his co-workers during the Nov. 22 attack before taking his own life, according to police. Prioleau wasn’t injured in the attack, but says bullets flew past her in the store’s break room.
“She witnessed several of her co-workers being brutally murdered on either side of her,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms. Prioleau looked at one of her co-workers in the eyes right after she had been shot in the neck. Ms. Prioleau saw the bullet wound in her coworker’s neck, the blood rushing out of it, and the shocked look on her co-worker’s helpless face.”
Prior to the shooting, Prioleau says she submitted a written complaint to the company about inappropriate comments Bing made to her about her age and appearance on multiple occasions, including when he once told her: “Isn’t your lady clock ticking? Shouldn’t you be having kids?”
Prioleau claims Walmart had received numerous reports of bullying and harassment by Bing from other employees and that he had a reputation for being “a mean and cruel supervisor.”
Ahead of the shooting, Bing told store employees and managers that if he were ever fired, he would retaliate and “people will remember my name,” according to the suit.
“The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team,” Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, said in an email. “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.
–With assistance from Brendan Case.
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