Only a month after Target officials asked their customers not to bring their personal weapons into stores, tragedy has struck at a location in Van Nuys, California.
KABC-TV in Los Angeles said a member of a cleaning crew was stabbed and fatally shot in the store’s parking lot Tuesday.
It happened about 5 a.m., and a suspect, described as a known gang member, was hospitalized apparently for being under the influence of “bath salts,” a popular synthetic drug.
The victim, a man in his 40s whose name was not immediately released, was found on the ground next to his Fleetwash pickup. He was hospitalized in critical condition after the shooting and later died at the hospital.
The worker was cleaning the lot with a high-pressure washer when the attacker approached from behind and opened fire, police told NBC Los Angeles.
His co-workers were inside the building and likely did not hear gunfire because of the noise made by the washer.
“They noticed the pressure in the hose had been reduced,” Lt. Jim Gavin told the TV station. “They went out to see if he was OK, and that’s when they found him with several gunshot wounds.”
The GunsSaveLives.net blog commented: “We’re not trying to necessarily say that Target’s request caused this murder or an increase in violent crime around Target stores as that would require compiling before and after statistics, but it is clear that criminals, mentally ill people, and violent drug users certainly don’t care about Target’s request. Only law abiding gun owners would consider adherence to the request.”
WND reported only a week ago that police agencies in two states were ramping up investigations into armed robberies at local outlets of chains that had asked customers not to bear arms.
According to an Oregon Live report at that time, authorities in Marion County, Oregon, reported a theft suspect pointed a gun at security officers at a Target store who had confronted him.
The incident in Salem left police searching for a suspect in his 30s, about 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Similarly, Hawaii News Now said Honolulu police were investigating the robbery of a Jack in the Box in which the suspect allegedly threatened workers with a gun.
The suspect was described as 5-foot-4, 120 pounds, with a dark complexion and a tattoo on his left hand.
The Guns Save Lives blog, which monitors such developments, said the Target incident was the third it documented in the two weeks since the request.
The retail chain asked its customers not to carry firearms into stores but stopped short of a ban, the report said.
The blog also noted the anti-gun activist group Moms Demand Action pressured Jack in the Box to ban guns in its restaurants.
The incidents at Target broke into the news immediately after the company asked customers to be unarmed.
On the same day CEO John Mulligan issued his public statement that the stores would “respectfully request” that customers leave their guns at home, a shopper was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Target in Gainesville, Georgia.
Three days later, on July 5, a woman in the Edgewood area of Atlanta exited her Mercedes Benz in a Target parking garage and was approached by a black man who punched her in the head, knocking her to the ground.
He took her purse and car keys, then warned her to “stay on the ground or I will f—ing kill you,” according to police reports. He then put her car in reverse and would have run her over if she hadn’t rolled out of the way, she told police. She said she obeyed his commands, according to Decaturish.com.
At the time, Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.Org, said he thought Target made a poor decision.
“That’s what happens in gun-free zones,” he told WND. “They actually should be called victim-enrichment zones, because that’s what they are. If anyone wants to commit a crime with impunity, take your gun where there are no guns. You can do what you want, get in and get out, and there’s nobody to stop you.
“If you notice where most of the so-called mass shootings are happening, they’re in gun-free zones,” Henry continued. “You don’t see them at gun shows or at gun stores. You don’t see people walk in there and start shooting. They’re not going to do it because they know everybody in there is armed.”
The incident at the restaurant in Hawaii was the fifth involving guns at Jack in the Box locations since the corporation established an unarmed-customer policy.
The fourth gun incident happened in Liberty, Texas.
Only a few weeks earlier, a Jack in the Box in northwest Houston was hit. The second in the series also was in Houston, and the first one after company officials announced their changed policy was in Tennessee, where a man was shot in the restaurant’s parking lot.
The Jack in the Box policy explained: “Creating a warm and inviting environment for all of our guests and employees is a top priority for Jack in the Box. The presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences. While we respect the rights of all our guests, we would prefer that guests not bring their guns inside our restaurants.”
At the time the third store was hit, the Guns Save Lives blog commented: “It looks like criminals might have been paying attention and realized Jack in the Box restaurants would be easy targets.”