A Walmart employee who says she narrowly missed being shot as another employee opened fire inside a Chesapeake store last week filed a $50 million lawsuit against the company Tuesday, alleging it ignored her complaints about his troubling behavior in the months prior to the deadly shooting.
Donya Prioleau, who worked at the Sam’s Circle Walmart as an overnight stocker and trainer for over a year, was in the break room when the gunfire erupted, the lawsuit said. Bullets “whizzed” by her face and left side, narrowly missing her, the claim said. Prioleau fell as she scrambled to get out of the room, injuring her knee and elbow.
Andre Bing, 31, an overnight manager for Walmart, killed six store employees before killing himself, according to police.
Prioleau’s lawsuit, filed in Chesapeake Circuit Court, outlines a series of complaints she made about the gunman in the two months prior to the shooting.
According to the lawsuit, the shooter harassed Prioleau for being poor and short, and made comments about her age, asking, “Isn’t your lady clock ticking? Shouldn’t you be having kids?” She said she submitted a complaint on Sept. 10 to Walmart management.
Prioleau’s mother was so concerned for her daughter’s safety, she spoke with the store’s manager but was told “there was nothing that could be done about Mr. Bing because he was liked by management,” the lawsuit said.
The shooter had asked Prioleau if she liked guns, according to the claim, and told store employees and managers that if he was fired, he would retaliate and “people will remember my name.”
The lawsuit said he also “repeatedly” asked his co-workers if they had received their active shooter training. When employees said they had, the lawsuit said he smiled and walked away.
“Mr. Bing had a reputation among Walmart employees for being the team lead to ‘watch out for,’” the complaint said. “It was well known that Mr. Bing had a bad attitude and would retaliate against five fellow employees for the smallest perceived slight or inadequacy. Mr. Bing was known for being a mean and cruel supervisor.”
The gunman, who had worked at the store since 2010, was disciplined multiple times and demoted due to complaints about his interactions with co-workers, but was later reinstated as a team lead, the lawsuit states.
Walmart has not responded to multiple requests for comment on complaints made against the shooter.
The lawsuit alleges the gunman’s “behavior prior to the shooting put Walmart on notice that Mr. Bing was violent and could harm others.”
“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,” reads a statement from Prioleau’s attorneys John Morgan and Peter Anderson. “As workplace shootings and violence become horrifyingly common, employers have a responsibility to understand the warning signs and take threats seriously in order to protect their employees and customers.”
Prioleau’s lawsuit states that she witnessed her co-workers being killed around her. Since the shooting she’s experienced sleeplessness, flashbacks, severe anxiety, stomach pain, nightmares, loss of appetite and other physical ailments.
“Our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones and for those, like Ms. Prioleau, whose lives will never be the same because of this trauma,” the lawyers’ statement said. “We will work to hold Walmart accountable for failing to stop this tragedy.”
Gavin Stone, 757-712-4806, email@example.com