A family left coping with the devastation of the El Paso Walmart mass shooting is demanding change in a lawsuit they filed against the retailer that argues the attack could have been prevented.
Jessica and Guillermo Garcia, who were both severely injured in the Aug. 3 mass shooting, filed the lawsuit against Walmart Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Texas LLC on Aug. 30 in El Paso County district court.
The lawsuit, which is not asking for monetary compensation, is seeking to get answers as to why Walmart did not have armed security or measures in place to prevent the shooting that resulted in the deaths of 22 people and injured another 24.
Patrick Crusius, a white male who told police he was targeting Hispanics, walked into the store Aug. 3 and shot at hundreds of customers and employees.
The lawsuit claims Walmart officials were grossly negligent by failing to have proper security in place to prevent the tragedy.
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“I don’t know the answers to this, but I definitely think that if they had armed security there, this would have turned out different,” said Don Coca, father of Jessica Garcia, who is acting as the family’s spokesman. “They (Walmart) could have prevented it. There are a lot of things that could have been done differently.”
Jessica and Guillermo Garcia, who were with their two children at the time of the shooting, were shot multiple times. The children were uninjured.
Guillermo Garcia was shot at least once in the spine and has undergone multiple surgeries. He remains in critical condition at Del Sol Medical Center. Jessica Garcia was also hospitalized for her injuries.
Coca said the lawsuit’s goal is to make sure Walmart puts in place policies including hiring armed security guards that will prevent anyone else from having to suffer like his family and dozens of other families.
“Walmart and any store has the duty to protect their customers,” said Patrick Luff, one of the lawyers representing the family. “It was a busy day on Aug. 3 and Walmart had no apparent security at the store. If it had had a visible security presence, the shooter would not have seen this as a target of opportunity and wouldn’t have come to this Walmart.”
Temporary restraining order
The lawsuit also is requesting that the district court judge grant a temporary restraining order preventing Walmart from altering the crime scene in any way.
The request comes after the El Paso Police Department turned over the crime scene back to Walmart on Aug. 14. It also comes in the wake of Walmart officials notifying El Paso Mayor Dee Margo that the company planned to renovate and reopen the store.
According to the lawsuit, Walmart has already begun renovating the store.
A hearing date on temporary restraining order has not been set. The lawsuit is set to be heard before 120th District Court Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza, according to court records.
Randy Hargrove, a spokesman at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, said the company is working to preserve all the information gathered by law enforcement and will respond accordingly to what orders are issued by the court.
“This tragic event will be with us forever, and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted,” Hargrove said. “Safety is a top priority and we care deeply about our associates and customers.”
Walmart officials have yet to receive the lawsuit petition filed against them, 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 Aug. 3,” Hargrove said. “Once we are served with a complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court.”
On Tuesday, Walmart announced it will stop selling handgun ammunition and has asked customers to no longer open carry in its stores.
Follow Aaron Martinez on Twitter: @AMartinezEPT