EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An attorney representing soccer parents Jessica and Guillermo “Memo” Garcia filed the first lawsuit against the shopping giant Tuesday, citing Walmart had a responsibility to protect its customers and they failed to do so.
The family is requesting a restraining order to halt all construction within the store in order to “preserve the scene and any evidence Walmart has collected since the shooting.”
The Garcia family was at the entrance of the Walmart selling goods to raise funds for their daughter’s soccer team, EP Fusion, when the shooting began. As KTSM previously reported, Memo was shot first as he stood at the concession table situated between the two entrances to the Cielo Vista Walmart.
“This tragic event will be with us forever and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted,” read a statement from Walmart. “Safety is a top priority and we care deeply about our associates and customers. 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. Once we are served with a complaint, we will respond appropriately with the Court.”
Jessica was shot multiple times in her legs while trying to protect her two children. One month after the shooting, Memo remains hospitalized in critical condition after a bullet hit his spine. Jessica’s father Don Coca said Memo is expected to remain in the hospital for about a year.
He said Memo has opened his eyes but is not talking yet. The family was told he may never walk again.
Coca said in a society where active shootings are becoming more common large corporations have a responsibility to be prepared.
“I wish it wouldn’t happen but the reality is it is happening. I think big businesses need to take care of their customers. They sure do cater to the regular Joe and they need to protect us,” said Coca.
The suit filed on behalf of the Garcia family by The Ammons Law Firm based in Houston claims Walmart had a responsibility to protect customers, which they failed to do. The suit alleges the Cielo Vista Walmart did not appear to have any armed guards for security, although a number of Walmarts in other areas of the country do.
“We are also requesting information about Walmart’s security practices, including how the El Paso store was rated on Walmart’s highly secretive risk-scoring and crime-database systems,” says family attorney Rob Ammons. “We also want to know whether El Paso Walmart managers altered store security policies in response to a hostage situation and shooting that took place in 2016 at a Walmart in Amarillo, Texas.”
In addition to the suit, the Garcias are requesting a temporary restraining order against Walmart in order to force any demolition or construction within the store from continuing. The store was turned over to Walmart’s parent company on August 21, after El Paso Police and federal agencies were done processing the scene.
As KTSM previously reported, Walmart planned to undergo major interior renovations which include adding new flooring, fixtures, and merchandise. The store cited a three to four-month turnaround on renovations before they would reopen.
According to the lawsuit, Walmart has already completely gutted the entire front area of the store since it was turned over to them by law enforcement two weeks ago.
The Ammons Law Firm is also representing a number of families involved Sutherland Springs church shooting.