Workers at a San Francisco grocery store have spoken out after a store security guard was shot after he tried to stop shoplifters.
Saturday’s shooting outside the Balboa Park Safeway on Mission Street has some workers scared to go to work, he told The Standard on condition of anonymity.
The suspect in the shooting has been identified as 50-year-old Andre Brown. He was arrested by the police on several charges, including attempted murder, after he shot a security guard. Brown is in police custody.
An employee at Safeway said they were threatened by the brazen nature of the shoplifter who shot the security guard.
“If you ask anyone here, they will say they feel unsafe,” the worker said. “What if they come in and shoot me if I say something? Or if I’m walking home, and that, you know?” said the worker, making a gesture of being hit with a blunt object.
Another Safeway worker said he was concerned about future shootings, adding that children often shop at the store near Balboa High School.
“Yes, I am scared. One day, you are here and then one day you are not,” the worker said.
Mario Ching often shops at the Mission Street Safeway for his job as a DoorDash buyer. He said the shooting has left him nervous but feels it is part of life because of the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S., which he said are rare in Peru, where he is originally from.
“I don’t know; Everywhere is dangerous,” Ching said.
Vince Bick, who lives next door and was loading groceries into the trunk of his car, was shaken by the shooting as he spoke. Bic said he may shop elsewhere in the future.
A security guard, who asked not to be named, said he knew the guard who was shot and is now considering working away from retail. He said shopkeepers know that security guards are not allowed to arrest them and that gives them an incentive.
“I am thinking of getting another job. I don’t want to stress that much,” said the guard. “Maybe I can work in a hospital or something.”
Stephen Boardman, a spokesman for the security guard union SEIU-United Services Workers West, said more members have expressed concern about threats to their physical safety from the pandemic.
Boardman believes more security officers are needed to deal with people who have mental illnesses and may be violent.
“Things are going beyond the job description,” Boardman said. “More and more officers are being asked to reduce or deal with people with mental illness, and they’re not being trained to deal with these things.”
Local Supervisor Ahsha Safai said she was shocked by the shooting, adding that the failure to stop retail theft has damaged the city’s reputation, put workers at risk and discouraged businesses from operating here, including the recent temporary closure of a Cotopaxi store in San Francisco.
“I think we’re prioritizing that more than anywhere else. It is having a negative impact on the city,” Safai said. “Safeway is one of the unofficial city centers of that neighborhood. People from all walks of life shop there.”
Safai added that they are organizing a stakeholder forum called the Commercial Retail Theft Working Group.
Safai, the San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office are holding a virtual community town hall Wednesday at 4 p.m. in response to the shooting.
Wendy Gutschall, a spokeswoman for Safeway’s parent company, Albertsons, said in a statement that the company’s “thoughts and best wishes are with the security guard” but declined to answer any questions, citing the ongoing investigation into the shooting.