A survivor of last week’s deadly mass shooting at a Walmart store in Virginia has sued the company, claiming she and other employees alerted Walmart management to the attacker but nothing was done.
Donya Prioleau, who filed the $50 million lawsuit Tuesday in a Virginia state court, said she worked as an overnight stocker with Andre Bing, the man accused of killing six colleagues on Nov. 22 after opening fire at a Walmart cafeteria in Chesapeake before committing suicide.
The lawsuit alleges that Prioleau experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, including physical and emotional distress, from witnessing the rampage. It also provides a long list of troubling signals displayed by the attacker that Prioleau claims managers failed to address.
“Bullets whizzed past Prosecutor Donya Prioleau’s face and left side, barely missing her,” the lawsuit reads. “She witnessed several of her colleagues being brutally murdered on either side of her.”
Six people were also injured in the attack, reigniting calls for stricter gun control regulations in the United States, which has recorded more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
Walmart, which is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in a statement it was reviewing Prioleau’s complaint and will respond “with the court if necessary.”
“The entire Walmart family is heartbroken at the loss of the valued members of our team,” the company said. “Our condolences go out to our employees and everyone affected, including those who were injured. We are focused on supporting all our employees with significant resources, including consulting.”
The lawsuit alleges that Bing “had a personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and maintained a ‘kill list’ of potential targets prior to the shooting,” which occurred just after 10 p.m. local time (03:00 GMT) last Tuesday, prior to the American Thanksgiving holiday.
Days after the attack, authorities in Chesapeake released a document from Bing’s phone labeled “obituary” and the 31-year-old’s complaints that his co-workers ostracized and antagonized him.
“I was harassed by idiots of low intelligence and lack of wisdom,” Bing wrote, accusing his colleagues of making fun of him and giving him “malicious, twisted grins.”
When a 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 whom Bing blamed for his troubles, as well as another whom he wanted to “spare”.
Tuesday’s lawsuit alleges that Walmart management knew or should have known about Bing’s troubling behavior, citing several examples of alarming behavior.
“Prior to the shooting, Mr. Bing repeatedly asked colleagues if they had their active shooting training,” it read. “When colleagues replied that they had, Mr. Bing just smiled and walked away without saying anything.”
Bing “made comments to other Walmart employees and managers suggesting he would be violent if fired or punished,” according to the allegation, which also says Bing was “disciplined leading up to the shooting, which caused his violent outburst was predictable”.
In another case, the lawsuit alleges that Bing told colleagues “he ran over a turtle with a lawnmower to get his [guts] squirt, which made him hungry and reminded him of ramen noodles.”
Bing was previously disciplined for bad behavior and harassing employees, but Walmart “continued to employ him anyway,” according to the lawsuit.
Prioleau had filed a formal complaint on a Walmart Global Ethics Statement Form alleging that Bing had made “bizarre and inappropriate comments about Ms. Prioleau’s age,” according to the lawsuit. Bing is said to have said to her, “Isn’t your lady’s clock ticking? Shouldn’t you have children?”
Prioleau also complained that Bing harassed her because she was “poor and short,” according to the lawsuit. It says she also informed Walmart that Bing was quietly calling her a “b***h.”
In September, Prioleau’s mother expressed concerns to a Walmart executive about her daughter’s safety “because it appeared their concerns fell on deaf ears.”
The manager said “there was nothing that could be done about Mr. Bing because he was well liked by management,” according to the suit.