- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It was with interest that I read in a recent edition of The Washington Post that a survivor action against a Virginia shopping mall had been quietly “tabled” out of court with the victim’s husband. I think it sets a horrible precedent.
In 2008, Bobbie Bosworth, a 60-year-old Arlington woman, was kidnapped and forced to purchase malt liquor for her captors and withdraw funds from an ATM.
What makes this story disturbing — aside from its randomness — is that several patrons at the PDQ Mart in Woodbridge sensed the woman’s distress, and at least one actually begged the manager to notify police. The manager did absolutely nothing — and Mrs. Bosworth died, as did one of the kidnappers, in a high-speed crash.
Since the surviving terrorist was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, the decision to settle the case means no one will ever be held accountable for her death.
Coupled with last year’s murder of a yoga store employee in Bethesda, the time has come for a law requiring companies providing security to malls to intervene in situations where a customer (or store employee) is in imminent danger.
Mrs. Bosworth was observed to be in obvious distress by half a dozen customers during the 14 minutes she was coerced into buying beer and withdrawing cash; Janna Murray was impaled more than 300 times during a sustained 20-minute maniacal attack by a coworker, during which employees of a neighboring store turned a deaf ear to frenzied cries for help.
As I discovered when my briefcase was stolen a few years ago from the Prince Frederick Walmart, private security companies exist to one end — to protect the store’s bottom line, customers be damned. (In my case, the store manager wouldn’t even condescend to review the security video.)
Generally speaking, I’m opposed to creating new laws. There are too many already. In New York, legislators are mulling limits on the size of beverage cups; Alabama has placed a strict dollar limit on schoolchildren’s gifts to teacher; here in Calvert, hitchhikers now run the risk of a $60 fine.
I’m definitely not in favor of enacting insane new laws, but the time has come to compel stores that accept the public’s coin to take responsibility for the safety of the public.
Edward C. Davenport, Drum Point