Walmart has been the center of attention this past week and not in a good way as two stores were sites of fatal shootings which left two employees dead in Southhaven, Miss., and 22 dead in El Paso with more than two dozen injured.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon posted his thoughts on these events on social media Tuesday evening (Aug. 6) after spending the day in El Paso.
McMillon said these two separate acts of violence against the Walmart family invoke a wide range of emotions — shock, anger, and grief. At the same time, McMillon said he feels gratitude for the first responders in El Paso and Southaven and he’s proud of the courageous reaction of Walmart employees.
From El Paso, McMillon wrote of some “incredible stories of associates who made heroic efforts to get customers to safety.”
He said Robert, the store manager, was leaving the store and then ran back inside when he heard the gunshots. He thanked Gilbert and Lasonya who helped dozens of customers to safety out of the back of the store. McMillon also praised Sarah, the club manager at Sam’s Club next door, who provided care for customers fleeing Walmart. He said Mayra was likely the very first responder and did an exceptional job bandaging wounds and helping customers escape.
“We heard story after story of courageous associates putting others ahead of themselves,” McMillon noted in the post. “When the worst happens, we counter with our best selves.”
McMillon said Walmart employees support one another like family, praying and healing together.
“Walmart reflects the best of America – full of people from all walks of life going about the business of taking care of family and daily responsibilities, living their lives and chasing their dreams. We are proud to be woven into the American fabric as a place for all people, a community gathering place,” McMillon noted.
He said the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate and that only makes Walmart more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed.
“Our store in El Paso is well known as a tight-knit community hub for people in the region, where we serve customers from both sides of the border. I continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience that we find in the diversity of the communities where we live and work,” McMillon noted.
In the days ahead, McMillon said the company’s focus will continue to be responding to the situation on the ground and helping employees, customers and law enforcement. He said there is a resource center on-site in El Paso where affected associates and their families can utilize counselors from Resources for Living for emotional support or talk to their leadership teams one-on-one.
“We want to make sure our associates have what they need to get through this difficult time and to support the response effort and community members,” McMillon noted.
He said Walmart is a “learning organization” and in the days ahead Walmart will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven as well as those raised across the nation regarding gun violence.
“We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities,” McMillon added.
Walmart told the media earlier in the week that it would continue to sell rifles and other firearms, despite pressure from gun control advocacy groups. Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told the media there is no change to the company policy on gun sales, adding that no retailer is immune to violence.
Walmart is the largest seller of guns in the U.S. The retail giant curtailed the sale of assault rifles in 2015, and last year, it raised the age for gun purchases to 21 from 18.