If you live in North Dallas, you have probably been to the “new” Costco on Churchill Road, the one built on vacant land edging LBJ, Coit Road, and North Central Expressway. The one built with $3 million of our taxpayer dollars. I was there Saturday afternoon, in fact, and ran into many friends.
On Sunday afternoon, robbers armed with a gun and pickaxe shattered the jewelry cases (which are towards the front of the store) and stole jewelry. The three men apparently forced their way into the warehouse club store at about 3 p.m. Sunday, got the jewelry, terrorized shoppers, then fled in a car, likely onto North Central Expressway or LBJ.
Great for a Costco (and us), to be so near those thoroughfares. Even better for crooks.
In talking and reading about this experience, which was absolutely terrorizing for the people inside shopping as well as employees, I am wondering about Costco’s “15-second door delay.” Is that to deter shoplifting? Apparently, when gunshots were fired, people fled the store. But some at the front door main entrance couldn’t get out for 15 seconds. 15 seconds is not a lot of time, but when a robber has a gun, it is an ETERNITY.
Others were hiding in bathrooms or getting out backdoors. At the time of the robbery Adam Vanek, National General Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretaryfor the Susan G. Komen Foundation, was shopping with his wife and two of their four children — one 3 years, one 17 months.
“We were at the check-out line furthest from the front door,” says Adam. “As our receipt was being printed, we heard people scream. Then there was this wave of people running towards us, some dropping behind counters. Then someone hit an alarm, which was LOUD. Everybody, including employees, went rushing out the back doors or whatever door they could.”
Not knowing what was happening inside or out, Adam grabbed his wife and children and got them into a nearby bathroom, which was also near an emergency exit. They left their shopping cart, even his wife’s purse. The entire store was cleared out in about 90 seconds, says Adam.
“We knew the activity was up towards the front. I never heard a gunshot. But I did hear someone scream, “gun!” That panic alarm was pretty loud, loud enough to muffle a shot,” says Adam.
What was a little disconcerting, though, said Adam: There was no PA announcement of when it was safe to come back into the store.
People watched and waited outside to see what the fleeing employees were doing. A lot of customers left via the back entrance, many literally climbing the fence to get away from the building. He also saw customers two blocks down the street from the store on cell phones. His wife was totally freaked, and Adam was shaking, once the adrenaline rush subsided. His wife couldn’t sleep Sunday night.
“What happened yesterday,” said Adam, “doesn’t happen at the Costco in Frisco or Plano.”
Another friend who was four feet away from the gunman described the scenario on her Facebook page:
COSTCO ARMED ROBBERY TODAY FOUR FEET IN FRONT OF MY SHOPPING CART! Life and death, grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon in Texas….. Around 2:30 today as my son and I were leaving Costco, I was on the phone with a friend. My cart was 4 feet from the jewelry case in the photo below. I noticed a very oddly dressed man walk quickly past my left. I commented to my friend those are the wildest pants I have ever seen. Then I noticed his bright orange hoodie pulled low, a fabric mask over his lower face, headband and glasses and his hand over his crotch… like the naive fool that I am I told my friend “I think he has a gun”. The man in the orange hoodie turned and looked straight in my face and then pulled a gun out and paused… I thought my God he is going to shoot me in the chest? Then he then started shooting. On my right a man pulled out a pick axe and slammed the jewelry counter at the same time. I flipped around and grabbed my son and screamed run, run, run now, run! We ran to the exit and people were ahead of us trying to get out the doors. Costco had a sign on the doors that said 15 second delay…. (incredibly stupid.. do you realize how long 15 seconds are in this situation?) Then the doors opened and we ran out. As I looked behind me I saw a confused older couple trying to get out. I went back into the store to help the people out. Then it was over. Then a Costco employee said Ma’am were you at the robbery and I said yes. He said yes, we saw you next to it. He asked me to to speak with the police and I did, two statements, in detail. Afterwards I checked out in a fog…
I checked with the North Dallas store, who sent me to their regional office, for more information on the robbery and door delay. No one is commenting at this time, neither the store nor management:
“We can not comment at this time,” said a spokeswoman at Costco’s regional office: 972.246.3007. “The investigation is ongoing, but we are taking steps to keep our stores and everyone more secure.”