Grocery workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Now supermarket shootings are on the rise. – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2021-09-26 13:44:00 –


Between 2000 and 2020, 28 grocery store shootings killed 78 people, according to FBI data.

Kroger store in Collierville, Tennessee. Gunmen killed one and injured 14 others. Patrick Run Trip / AP

Recently, when Eddie Chavez oversees the self-checkout area of ​​the Safeway supermarket where he works in Colorado, he turns his head back and forth like a pendulum and constantly monitors everyone coming through the door. ..

Chavez has been working in a grocery store for 40 years and never felt dangerous before. But now, “I don’t know when the next time will be,” he said.

Earlier this week, gunmen fired in a Kroger supermarket on the outskirts of Memphis, turning the day-to-day grocery shopping business into a horrifying encounter with gun violence.

Such events are no longer an exception. This year, at least three deadly shootings in supermarkets have continued the recent trend.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, shootings at grocery stores have increased in recent years. Between 2000 and 2020, 78 people died in 28 incidents, according to FBI data.

Some of the shootings took place in small gas station markets and convenience stores, but major chains such as Wal-Mart and Kroger have experienced multiple shootings there since 2018. Kroger in Boulder, Colorado.

For grocery workers, the threat of violence increases the list of dangers faced during a pandemic, from increased risk of coronavirus infection to militant customers who refuse to wear masks.

Vaile Wright, a psychologist at the American Psychological Association and senior director of healthcare innovation, states that such jobs are often low-paying and physically demanding. “You are constantly dealing with the increasingly uncivilized masses, and you are deliberately endangering yourself and your family every day,” she said.

When a shooting like Thursday happened, grocery workers “have to equate it,” Wright said. “At some point, these cumulative stressors begin to adversely affect your coping ability.”

It was a devastating year, especially for Kroger. In March, an employee fired at one of the company’s distribution centers in Wisconsin, killing two colleagues and then pointing his gun at himself. Just five days later, a gunman rushed to a Kroger-owned store in Boulder. The dead included three Kroger employees, six customers and police officers.

“We can’t prepare for this kind of situation,” Kroger’s senior vice president, Tim Massa, said in a panel on workplace violence hosted by the Food Industry Group this summer. “A lot of emotions hit you. You feel fear, anger, pain, and, most importantly, just helpless.”

Massa urged all managers to have a moment when Kroger consults with experts on trauma and resilience, looks back on the victim company-wide, and creates space for employees to discuss their feelings. It doesn’t have to be. “

Kroger also required all employees to complete a review course on what to do in an active shooter situation, “reminding everyone how to protect themselves in the workplace and in the community.” “I did,” said Massa.

On Thursday, a gunman entered the Kroger store in Collierville, a suburb of Memphis, and began shooting. Employees hurriedly hid in the freezer or office, trying to help a seriously injured colleague. One customer was killed, as was a shooter who pointed his weapon at himself.

The injured included 10 employees and 5 customers, said Kroger spokeswoman Crystal Howard. She said the company offers paid counseling services to store employees. Howard said the suspect was identified as a “third-party vendor.”

Ronnie E. Shepherd Jr., chairman of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union’s (UFCW) regional branch, said supermarkets are clearly the target of violence and businesses must do more to protect their workers. Stated. “People need to go to work knowing that they are safe,” he said.

The violence in Collierville occurred just six months and a day after the shootings at King Supers, a Kroger-owned grocery store in Boulder. Employees at another King Supers location in the same city said the shooting was never far from their hearts.

Dayna Korfitzen, who works as a barista, has been working with peace of mind because armed guards have been stationed there since the shooting in March. However, she turned to Kroger’s outlets as a recurring target. “Kroger seems like a new hotspot,” she said.

Korfitzen said he sent an email to an employee providing counseling resources after the shooting in Tennessee on Thursday.

Grocery stores are open from early morning to late night and support a wide range of demographics, resulting in occasional interpersonal friction and recurring violence of this kind, even in the event of a pandemic. One of the few retail environments that has been consistently open is William Flynn, co-founder of Power of Preparedness, a security training company that previously worked for the NYPD and the Department of Homeland Security.

Shooting is “certainly a problem that grocery stores are aware of,” said Alex Varian, a retail consultant and former grocery owner with decades of industry experience. “Obviously it doesn’t happen every week, but it’s definitely increasing.”

Grocery chains are not keen to publicly discuss the steps they are taking to respond to the threat. Walmart, Publix, and Wegmans did not respond to requests for comment. Whole Foods said no one was ready to talk about the company’s emergency preparedness right away.

Rob Bartels, former CEO of Martina Supermarket, a grocery chain in Indiana and Michigan, said the industry had a “long history of vigilance” when it came to food safety and employee readiness against threats such as armed robbery. “There is. However, in 2014, these preparations at his company did not include the status of active shooters. Things changed dramatically after gunmen set foot in the Martins store in Elkhart, Indiana, killing employees and customers.

The company, in consultation with law enforcement agencies, has organized a support group for employees throughout the location to grieve and has begun a “broad” review of policies and procedures, Bartels said. Some of the subsequent changes were physical, and although all doors could be quickly opened and numbered inside and outside to improve communication with law enforcement in an emergency, Other changes focused on staff training.

Whenever a shooting at another grocery store occurs, it returns Bartels to that day. “You revisit it, and because you know that kind of pain, your mind is just directed at everyone involved,” he said.

Two years ago, Wal-Mart and Kroger responded to a series of deadly shots by asking customers not to display their weapons in stores in states where they were allowed to carry firearms. In response, some gun advocates demanded a boycott of the store.

According to strict standards for American mass shootings, Thursday’s incident at a Kroger store in Tennessee was rarely registered — and some grocery workers elsewhere in the country knew it even. I said I didn’t.

Ray Fix, a 39-year-old dairy manager at ShopRite, New Jersey, sighed for a long time when he was told about what had happened. “That’s absolutely terrible,” he said. But the coronavirus pandemic is a much bigger concern for him. Some customers don’t wear masks, some have mock store employees, and some are angry about the shortage of products, Fix said. His store is understaffed. Everyone is tired. “It’s a big, messy mess,” he said. “We are all exhausted.”

Workers at other grocery stores, such as Safeway’s Chavez, were very aware of the shooting. He is a member of the board of directors of the local branch of the union on behalf of grocery workers. In March, he drove to Boulder’s shooting scene to pay tribute. He says the union is defending armed guards in stores, and the deadly violence in Tennessee has made its priority even more urgent.

“We’ve always been deadly with the coronavirus, and now we’re killed in all these shootings,” Chavez said. He said employees and customers feel vulnerable as well. “Like me, they think,’Hey, are we next?’ “

Ari Schneider of The Washington Post in Boulder, Colorado contributed to this report.

Grocery workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Now supermarket shootings are on the rise. Source link Grocery workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Now supermarket shootings are on the rise.

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