A survivor of the deadly mass shooting at a Walmart store in the US state of Virginia last week has sued the company, alleging that she and other employees warned Walmart management about the attacker but that nothing was done.
Donya Prioleau, who filed the $50m lawsuit on Tuesday in a Virginia state court, said she worked as an overnight stocker with Andre Bing, the man accused of killing six co-workers on November 22 after opening fire in a Walmart breakroom in Chesapeake before killing himself.
The lawsuit alleges that Prioleau has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, including physical and emotional distress, from witnessing the rampage. It also provides a long list of troubling signs displayed by the attacker that Prioleau claims managers failed to address.
“Bullets whizzed by Plaintiff Donya Prioleau’s face and left side, barely missing her,” the lawsuit reads. “She witnessed several of her coworkers being brutally murdered on either side of her.”
Six people also were wounded in the attack, which has renewed calls for stricter gun control regulations in the United States, where more than 600 mass shootings have been recorded so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit group.
Walmart, which has its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in a statement that it was reviewing Prioleau’s complaint and will respond “as appropriate with the court”.
“The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team,” the company said. “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.”
The lawsuit alleges that Bing “had a personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and kept a ‘kill list’ of potential targets prior to the shooting”, which took place just after 10pm local time (03:00 GMT) last Tuesday, ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday.
Days after the attack, authorities in Chesapeake released a document from Bing’s phone labelled a “death note” and laid out the 31-year-old’s complaints that his co-workers were ostracising and antagonising him.
“I was harassed by idiots with low intelligence and a lack of wisdom,” Bing wrote, accusing his colleagues of laughing at him and giving him “evil twisted grins”.
When one colleague tried “to get rid” of him, Bing said he “lashed out”. The note, released with names redacted on Friday, appears to identify certain employees that Bing blamed for his troubles, as well as another whom he wished to “spare”.
Tuesday’s lawsuit claims that Walmart management knew or should have known about Bing’s disturbing behaviour, listing several instances of alarming conduct.
“Prior to the shooting, Mr. Bing repeatedly asked coworkers if they had received their active shooter training,” it states. “When coworkers responded that they had, Mr. Bing just smiled and walked away without saying anything.”
Bing “made comments to other Walmart employees and managers suggesting that he would be violent if fired or disciplined”, according to the claim, which also says that Bing “was disciplined leading up to the shooting, making his violent outburst predictable”.
In another instance, the lawsuit alleges that Bing told co-workers “he ran over a turtle with a lawnmower just to see its [guts] spray out, which made him hungry and reminded him of ramen noodles”.
Bing was previously disciplined for bad behaviour and harassing employees, but Walmart “kept employing him anyway”, the lawsuit also says.
Prioleau had submitted a formal complaint on a Walmart Global Ethics Statement Form indicating that Bing had “bizarrely and inappropriately commented on Ms. Prioleau’s age”, the lawsuit states. Bing allegedly told her: “Isn’t your lady clock ticking? Shouldn’t you be having kids?”
Prioleau also complained that Bing had harassed her for “being poor and being short”, according to the lawsuit. It states that she also informed Walmart that Bing called her a “b***h” under his breath.
In September, Prioleau’s mother expressed concerns to a Walmart manager about her daughter’s safety “because it appeared their concerns were falling on deaf ears”.
The manager said “there was nothing that could be done about Mr. Bing because he was liked by management”, according to the suit.