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Walmart gunman exhibited threatening behavior for months, lawsuit says

Survivor of attack alleges shooter had vendettas against co-workers and maintained ‘kill list’

Hundreds gather for a vigil after the shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The employee who fatally shot six people at a Virginia Walmart last week exhibited threatening behavior for months and store managers knew — or should have known — he could harm others, a survivor of the attack alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Donya Prioleau, who works at the store in Chesapeake, claims in the $50 million legal action that her mother visited the Walmart in September to complain about Andre M. Bing, the shooter, and told a manager that she was “very concerned for her daughter’s safety.”

Bing, who was an overnight supervisor, told employees he would retaliate if fired and “people will remember my name,” Prioleau alleges in the lawsuit filed in Chesapeake Circuit Court. He also had vendettas against several co-workers and maintained a “kill list” of potential targets, the suit alleges.

The suit references a “manifesto,” saying it “listed several Walmart employees by name as targets due to issues he had with them.” That seems to refer to a note police said they found in Bing’s phone, which he described as a “death note” and recounted his grievances with various colleagues. Bing killed himself after shooting the others.

On one occasion, Bing asked a group of employees if they had received active-shooter training, before smiling and walking away when they said they had been through such a session, the suit alleges.

Prioleau and her attorneys did not respond to interview requests, and it is unclear how she knew such information — some of which would seem to have come from other employees or managers. The lawsuit echoes complaints and concerns from some workers and families of victims, who have raised questions about whether Walmart should have recognized Bing was a threat.

“While the cruelty of murdering six defenseless people is truly unimaginable, Ms. Prioleau alleges that she and her co-workers had been concerned for months that such an incident could occur at any time,” attorneys for Prioleau, John Morgan and Peter Anderson said in a statement.

Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman, declined to immediately comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

“The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team,” Hargrove said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to our associates and everyone impacted, including those who were injured. We are focused on supporting all our associates with significant resources, including counseling. We are reviewing the Complaint and will be responding as appropriate with the court.”

Prioleau was inside the break room of the store when the Nov. 22 shooting unfolded, according to the lawsuit. Bing opened fire, sending bullets whizzing past Prioleau’s face and side.

Prioleau looked a co-worker in the eyes after the woman had been shot in the neck and could see the shocked expression on her “helpless” face, according to the lawsuit. Prioleau bolted from the break room and fell, injuring herself, the suit says.

When police arrived, they found multiple people dead inside the store, including the shooter. Other victims died after being taken to the hospital.

A motive in the shooting has not been offered, but authorities did release the rambling note from Bing that denounced colleagues he claimed had harassed him. He asked God to “forgive me for what I’m going to do.” The note was found on Bing’s phone after the shooting.

Walmart gunman had note in phone railing against colleagues

Prioleau had worked on the store’s overnight shift for more than a year and Bing was her supervisor, according to the lawsuit.

Prioleau claims in the lawsuit that Bing had been disciplined several times during his employment at Walmart, where he started in 2010, and had been demoted by management for “improper and disturbing interactions with others,” before having his position restored.

Prioleau claims she submitted on Sept. 10 a complaint against Bing to Walmart after he made a comment about her age and said: “Isn’t your lady clock ticking? Shouldn’t you be having kids?”

Prioleau claims Bing had also harassed her for being short and not having money, and called her a “b----,” according to the lawsuit. The same day Prioleau filed the complaint with Walmart, her mother visited the Chesapeake store to advocate for her daughter and told a manager she was concerned for her daughter’s safety, according to the lawsuit.

A manager told Prioleau’s mother that nothing could be done about Bing because he was liked by management, the lawsuit alleges.

Bing also acted bizarrely on occasions, and Walmart’s management had received “numerous reports” that Bing was bullying, threatening and harassing other employees, the lawsuit alleges.

The shooting has caused Prioleau significant mental distress, and in the suit she is accusing Walmart of negligently hiring and retaining Bing.

“Walmart knew or should have known about Mr. Bing’s disturbing and threatening behavior, but failed to terminate Mr. Bing, restrict his access to common areas, conduct a thorough background investigation, or subject him to a mental health examination,” the lawsuit says.

On Tuesday, Walmart released short biographies of the workers killed. Randall Blevins was an overnight stock associate who never missed a day of work. Fernando “Jesus” Chavez-Barron was a front-end associate and an 11th-grade honor student who recently started working at Walmart to assist his family, the company said.

Lorenzo Gamble was a 15-year custodian who loved football and his two sons. Tyneka Johnson was an overnight worker who loved music and dancing and dreamed of attending college. Brian Pendleton was a 10-year custodian who always arrived early and loved to joke.

Kellie Pyle worked on the night team and is survived by two children, a granddaughter and a fiance, whom she had recently moved to the Tidewater region to marry.

Four other associates were injured that night, according to Walmart. Two remain in the hospital and two have been released.