Security company talks guard protocol after shoplifting shooting

Security company talks guard protocol after Knoxville shoplifting shooting

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By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With the holiday season quickly approaching, shoplifting is likely to grow even more prevalent. Stores follow procedures to stop shoplifting while keeping customers and workers safe.

Walmart representatives say store security guards were unaware a shoplifting suspect, Zachary Blaine Russell, 21, of 7605 Freund Street in Knoxville, was armed when two police officers responded to the South Knoxville Walmart Tuesday night.

Russell was shot and killed by one of the officers when police say he drew a handgun and pointed it them.

Paula Merriman has been in the security business for years and has co-owned Master Plans Security Services for the last two years.

"Each individual company has their own set of where they would like a shoplifter taken to and how they would like that addressed," Merriman said.

She also says security officers don't have the same authority as police officers. "A security officer for the most part is really not supposed to physically restrain someone. You can lead them to somewhere you want them to go, but as far as physically restraining someone, then no, you wouldn't."

Walmart representatives were unwilling to share anything regarding their shoplifting policy, but spokeswoman Dianna Gee did release a statement saying: "This is a tragic and difficult situation for everyone involved. We are working closely with police as they review all of the facts and have offered to provide them any information we might have available that would help them in their investigation."

That information includes surveillance video from Tuesday night's incident.

Walmart added, "We serve more than 140 million customers in our U.S. stores every week, and unfortunately, there will be individual incidents. But let me assure you that every store puts a lot of focus on its security and crime prevention measures."

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