CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A former employee who survived the mass shooting in Chesapeake in November has refiled her lawsuit against Walmart and the estate of the shooter.
The new iteration of the complaint highlights the ways in which the shooter specifically targeted the plaintiff. Though she wasn’t injured by a bullet, the shots apparently come close enough to Briana Tyler’s body that they left holes in the hood of her jacket, a photo of which is included in the documents (embedded below).
In late April, a judge ruled that original lawsuit (and ostensibly all of the other suits) would not move forward, but gave her lawyers 30 days to file a new complaint.
Under Virginia law, mass shootings are generally considered workplace accidents. To be able to sue an employer, a plaintiff has to effectively argue that they were targeted for personal reasons – not just because they were an employee who happened to be on the job.
That judge found that the claims originally put forward by Tyler were not sufficient to show that. The new filing points to a number of details from the attack to show that not only was it personal, but also that Tyler was “the only individual that [the shooter] chased all the way into the store, firing his gun.”
“Upon seeing Briana in the breakroom, [the shooter] locked eyes with Briana, pointed his gun directly at her head, and pulled the trigger,” it reads, describing the moments immediately after the shooting began.
To make its case, the complaint includes a passage noting that the shooter chose not to fire at one employee, identified as Jessie Wilczewski, whom he instead told to go home.
Shortly after, “[a]s Briana exited the breakroom, [the shooter] saw Briana leave the breakroom, and broke off his pursuit of [an] unknown individual and began chasing Briana,” it reads.
“While running down the hallway, seeking to escape [the shooter], and eventually entering the retail store section of the Chesapeake Walmart, Briana became aware that [the shooter] was now chasing her and firing his gun.” It goes on to describe bullets flying past her, barely missing.
The new complaint also notes that Tyler’s grandfather was also in the store at the time as a customer. It stated that he dropped to the floor when the shooting started.
The rest of the complaint appears to consistent with the original. It details how the shooter had been a problematic employee known for making disturbing statements and berating those who worked under him for some time prior to the incident. It blames Walmart’s negligence in hiring and retaining him for the shooting.