Did you know that the security guards at the freakin' Burlington Coat Factory, located at the corner of Fifth and Howard Streets, are armed with firearms? Well, apparently at least one is — or was, until his arrest Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly shot a man outside the establishment.
According to the San Francisco Police Department, the shooting went down at 2:37 p.m. Tuesday. ABC 7 reports that a security guard, who police say is a 42-year-old man, "confronted a man inside the store, who may have been shoplifting."
The confrontation between the guard and the 33-year-old man "spilled out onto the street," ABC 7 reports. That's when, an SFPD spokesperson who spoke to CBS 5 says, the guard fired on the man.
Guy who saw police cars converge @ Burlington Coat Factory in SF (from hotel next door) took this. Security guard shot suspected shoplifter pic.twitter.com/whF8d3xFiH— Spencer Blake (@spencerjblake) August 16, 2017
“The security guard here that’s employed by Burlington Coat Factory stopped the subject for theft,” SFPD Lieutenant William Escobar said.
“A physical confrontation occurred. And during the struggle, the security guard did fire rounds at the suspect.”
Shooting at 5th and Howard outside Burlington Coat Factory pic.twitter.com/HrnQSifi0x— Joe Vazquez (@joenewsman) August 15, 2017
NBC Bay Area reports that the shooting was captured by surveillance cameras in the area. The shooting victim was "shot three times in his lower extremities," CBS 5 reports. According to the SFPD, his injuries are not considered life-threatening.
“I heard three gunshots and then I heard a lady screaming,” witness Danny McMillian told CBS 5. “And then about three to five minutes later, a bunch of cop cars.”
According to the SFPD, the guard was placed under arrest. McMillian says he saw the guard, who has not been publicly identified, "handcuffed and put into the car" at the scene.
Coincidentally, on Monday afternoon the San Francisco city attorney’s office "notched a major legal victory in a long-running legal dispute" with Correctional Education Co., a loss prevention company used by Burlington Coat Factory, the Chron reports.
The company "partners with retailers and security firms to offer a $500 'corrective education' diversion program to people accused of shoplifting that allows them to avoid criminal charges," a business model city attorney Dennis Herrera argued "amounted to extortion." Per the Chron:
According to the 2015 lawsuit, apprehended shoplifting suspects are escorted by a retailer’s security personnel to “a secluded area in the back of the store,” where they’re shown a CEC video and offered the option of either admitting their guilt and enrolling in a six-hour “behavioral modification” course, or being sent to jail. The lawsuit alleged that 90 percent of approximately 20,000 people accused of shoplifting agreed to pay CEC and enroll in the course.
In announcing the ruling Tuesday, Herrera’s office noted that “CEC’s clients have included Walmart, Bloomingdale’s, Ralph’s, Abercrombie and Fitch, Burlington Coat Factory and Kroger’s.”
CEC contends that its programs reduce the burden on local law enforcement agencies and give offenders an opportunity to avoid criminal charges and possible jail time while learning how to make better life choices.
But San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn said that whether the program is successful in reducing shoplifting is irrelevant to the allegations that CEC’s business model amounts to extortion.
The company’s strategy of threatening to call police unless suspects admit guilt and pay for a CEC course represents “textbook extortion under California law, and has been so declared for at least 125 years and repeatedly reaffirmed by the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions,” Kahn said. Retailers partnering with CEC were “acting in concert” and that “both the retailer and CEC are engaging in extortion,” he added.
As Herrera filed the suit on behalf of the entire state, Monday's ruling might mean that CEC, which is based in Utah, might not be able to continue to operate in California. "In his ruling," the Chron reports, "Kahn instructed the city attorney’s office to confer with CEC’s lawyers to come up with an outline for how the company might change its business practices to comply with California law."
Most shoplifters, I think you'll agree, would prefer to watch a video and be allegedly extorted by a private company than to get shot by a rent-a-cop on a SoMa sidewalk. Here's hoping that soon, neither option will be on the table.