Relatives Of Mexicans Killed In El Paso Shooting Are Suing Walmart

Nov 21, 2019
Originally published on November 21, 2019 5:59 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

An update now on some of the people affected by the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in August. Relatives of Mexicans who were murdered or injured are suing the giant retail chain. With the help of the Mexican government, the plaintiffs say they want some justice for the victims. And they want Walmart to provide better security for its customers.

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Mexico's foreign relations ministry is helping the 10 Mexican plaintiffs in the suit which was filed in El Paso, Texas. In it, the plaintiffs claim Walmart did not, quote, "take reasonable and necessary measures to protect its customers."

On August 3, a Texas man who told police he had traveled to El Paso to harm Hispanics, killed 22 people at the Cielo Vista Walmart superstore. Eight of those murdered were Mexicans, some of whom had just crossed the border that day to shop. Eight other Mexicans were wounded.

Lynn Coyle, the El Paso lawyer representing the Mexican plaintiffs, says that 220,000-square-foot Walmart store is one of the country's busiest.

LYNN COYLE: And just think about this for a minute. On August 3, with, I think, over a thousand shoppers in the store, they did not have one security guard in the front of that store.

KAHN: Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove says the company has yet to see the lawsuit and cannot comment. But in writing, he did say safety is a top priority and we care deeply about our associates and customers. He added, we will never forget this tragic event, and our condolences continue to go out to everyone who was affected.

While also aiding victims of the massacre, Mexico's foreign minister says Mexico will seek extradition of the 22-year-old shooter to stand trial in Mexico and face terrorism charges. Both actions are still pending according to a spokesman at the country's attorney general's office.

Back in August, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told NPR such steps are critical to finding justice for the victims.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

MARCELO EBRARD: It's important to send a message to the people who want to hurt or kill Mexicans in the United States.

KAHN: El Paso lawyer Lynn Coyle says, for now, Walmart must do what is right.

COYLE: If they're going to get the economic benefit of the number of shoppers located here, then they should reciprocate with that basic level of security for its customers and provide a safe environment for them.

KAHN: Last week, Walmart reopened its now totally remodeled Cielo Vista Supercenter. Coyle says private security was contracted for the store - and a huge banner reading El Paso Strong was draped on one side of the building.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.