Walmart Shooting Leaves Many Asking Why?

The Wall Street Journal has published several reports about the November 2022 Walmart shooting in Chesapeake, Virginia. It involved Andre Bing, a Walmart supervisor who shot and killed six workers before taking his own life. We are now learning he had been under investigation by store managers and company security professionals for more than two years.

These reports tell us that Bing, who had worked for Walmart for more than ten years before the shooting, had long been a cause of concern. Just a few months before the shooting, one store employee, Donya Prioleau, filed a formal written complaint with the store claiming that Bing had made derogatory comments about her age and appearance. Her mother also filed complaints with Walmart.

Staffers Respond to Walmart Shooting

After the shooting, Amanda Land, a former Walmart employee, said Bing was “not easy to get along with. He thought people were always talking ‘crap’ about him.”

Another former employee, Nathan Sinclair, reported that “Andre did a lot of weird things. He was an aggressive person.”

James Kelly, a Walmart supervisor, reported that Bing once threatened him by saying, “I don’t care how big you are. I have something to take care of that.”

In separate interviews, store employees said they would cover the cameras on their cellphones to appease him. They did this because Bing believed the government was tracking him using the cameras of store employees.

The Walmart shooting has triggered two separate lawsuits seeking $50 million in damages against Walmart. Both cases indicate the store was long aware Bing posed a danger to himself and other staffers. They also point to one overriding question:

With this knowledge, why didn’t Walmart take steps to prevent this tragedy?

Before answering this question, here are a few things we need to know about workplace violence:

  • Workplace violence takes many forms. Two of the most common forms are verbal harassment and bullying. These are all-to-often overlooked and rarely reported.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”
  • Workplace violence is far more common than we realize. Studies indicate workplace violence happens all the time in the U.S. in one form or another. It is just when someone gets seriously injured, or a mass shooting is reported that we hear about it.
  • Further, “there are almost always warning signs,” says Johnathan Tal of  TAL Global. “Sometimes these warning signs are not recognized, not heeded, or simply ignored.”

This makes answering our question of why Walmart did not take steps to prevent this shooting all the more difficult to answer. However, we may get answers with further investigations or as the lawsuits mentioned earlier proceed.

However, according to Tal, this is what we need to do now:

  • Employers need to create a “zero tolerance” workplace violence prevention and management program.
  • The program should have top leadership’s ongoing support
  • Threat Management Teams (TMTs) comprised of representatives from business operations, human resources, legal departments, facility management, and safety and security, should be created and established.
  • A qualified risk assessment and security consulting firm such as TAL Global should be brought in to work with the TMT. The firm will evaluate risk, suggest ways to mitigate or eliminate the threat, and create workplace violence prevention strategies, including training programs for all employees, supervisors, and managers.
  • These training programs should focus on identifying the warning signs of workplace violence and learning steps to take to prevent or mitigate it from happening.

“What we need to know is that many of these incidents, including the Walmart shooting, are preventable if organizational leadership and TMTs learn, know, and pay attention to the warning signs, as well as consult with trusted security experts,” adds Tal.

“The liability for not having such a process [in place] is enormous, including the potential for loss of life and significant disruption to business operations.”

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© TAL Global, 2019