Four people were shot to death and five others injured in a mass shooting at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar Oct. 6 after a disgruntled patron was denied service and kicked off the premises. He later returned with another man – both with guns.

Witnesses said trouble began at the private members-only Tequila KC bar when the bartender, Jose Valdez, refused to serve a man who had caused problems at the bar previously. The man threw a glass at the bartender and started arguing with another individual before bar employees escorted him out of the bar.

Shortly after, that man and another man returned to the bar with handguns. They slipped in through the back door and assessed the crowd before opening fire, Mr. Valdez told CNN. The shooting prompted about 40 bar patrons to flee the building.

The mass shooting claimed the lives of four Hispanic men: one in his late 50s, another in his mid-30s, and two in their mid-20s, Kansas City police spokesman Thomas Tomasic said, according to CNN.

Five other people were taken to nearby hospitals with gunshot wounds and other injuries. All are in stable condition.

Kansas City police identified the gunmen as 29-year-old Hugo Villanueva-Morales and 23-year-old Javier Alatorre. Mr. Alatorre was captured and arrested the following day and Mr. Villanueva-Morales remained at-large on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Both men face multiple charges, including four counts of first-degree murder. Bail for each of them was set at $1 million.

Kansas City, Missouri’s KCTV5 News talked about the mass shooting with the owner of the Tequila KC bar, who expressed frustration with law enforcement over what he said was a slow response.

The owner told KCTV5 that when the suspect was being escorted out of the bar, he told people inside that he was going to return and shoot everyone.

The owner said called the police to report the threat, but there was no response after 20 minutes. He called again and asked them, “‘Why is it taking so long? ‘This guy could shoot anybody, he could have a gun and could be shooting anybody.”

According to the bar’s owner, the police told him that they were having problems somewhere else. The owner said that if police had arrived sooner, the tragedy might have been prevented.

According to KCTV5, the owner said that the security guard didn’t show up at the bar Saturday night. He said he isn’t sure he will reopen the bar, but if he does, he will not stay open without a security guard again.

Beasley Allen lawyer Parker Miller, who works in the firm’s Atlanta office and heads up the firm’s negligent security practice, notes that under negligent security law, owners of establishments owe a duty to patrons and guests to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe and secure from anticipated dangers. Cases involving negligent security law normally take the form of shootings, fights, stabbings, or other physical violence (including sexual assault) where severe injury or death occurs due to the establishment owner’s failure to take reasonable safety measures. While originally applied to apartment complexes, retail locations, and other places where innocent people are victimized by crime, the huge increase in mass shooting events has placed new scrutiny on what establishment owners can do to curb the risk to patrons and guests.

“Mass shootings are happening with such regularity, and in so many places, that establishment owners cannot turn a blind eye to them. This is particularly true in confined areas, such as schools, venues, events, entertainment districts, and the like. There are a variety of reasonable security measures – such as an alert, armed security guard, that could greatly mitigate the security threat of a mass shooter.” Miller said. “Those in a position to profit from these locations need to be mindful of security risks to their guests. Otherwise, they risk being held accountable by the public. Jury verdicts are clearly reflecting the public’s demand that safety and security be a top priority.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also expressed frustration over the incident, which she called “yet another mass shooting” in a statement.

“I continue to be frustrated that these mass shootings and killings occur with regular frequency. Our nation has an obligation to address this ongoing public health crisis,” she said.

The epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. isn’t just senseless and tragic, it’s incredibly costly. Nearly every day in the U.S. victims of gun violence and their families are mourning the loss of loved ones while survivors are forever maimed and traumatized.

Until the U.S. can get a handle on its gun violence problems, Americans’ expectations for safety and security will continue to increase and businesses like the Tequila KC bar will have to step up their security game. Failure to do so could result in lawsuits that press premises liability concerns, including negligence for inadequate security or lapses in existing security measures.

Additional sources:
KSHB 41 Kansas City
The Kansas City Star

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