DALLAS, Texas (AP) — A Texas couple who were injured in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso last month recently filed a lawsuit against the corporation alleging it did not have adequate security in place to prevent the attack that killed 22 people.
The lawsuit submitted Friday by Guillermo and Jessica Garcia is the first filed in the aftermath of the Aug. 3 shooting that also injured about two-dozen people, including the El Paso couple.
Guillermo Garcia has undergone several surgeries for his wounds and remains hospitalized in critical condition. Jessica Garcia also was hospitalized but has since been released.
The suit also requests that a restraining order be imposed to preserve evidence found at the store and prevent Walmart from destroying or altering any relevant material. The retail giant announced two weeks ago that it will reopen the El Paso store but the interior of the building will first be rebuilt and the renovation will include an on-site memorial honoring the victims of the shooting, many of whom were Latino.
Patrick Luff, an attorney for the couple, said Wednesday that shootings have previously occurred at Walmart stores, including one in 2016 in the Texas Panhandle city of Amarillo, and the company should have had adequate security on a busy shopping day at the El Paso store.
“So the question is why aren’t they taking sufficient steps to prevent this from happening?” Luff said.
Authorities believe the suspected gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted a racist screed online before opening fire on shoppers . He’s being held on a charge of capital murder.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Wednesday that the shooting “will be with us forever and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted.”
“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,” he said.
Walmart announced earlier this week that it will stop selling handguns and short-barrel rifle ammunition, while requesting that customers not openly carry firearms in its stores, even where state laws allow it, such as Texas.
It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska. Walmart stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s, with the exception of Alaska. The latest move marks its complete exit from that business and allows it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.