JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A federal investigation into the mass shooting at the New Town Dollar General in Jacksonville is underway by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
According to the agency’s website, it’s a fatality and catastrophe inspection opened the same day as the murders.
One of the victims in the shooting – 19-year-old AJ Laguerre Jr. -- worked at the store.
Jerrald Gallion was a customer and Angela Carr was waiting in the parking lot for an Uber passenger.
Jacksonville Labor and Employment Attorney James Poindexter said an inspection is triggered any time a death happens in the workplace, but a “complete probe” is more in-depth.
“There’s not a specific regulation to these types of retail establishments,” Poindexter said, “but there still is a general duty clause in OSHA that requires all employers to keep the workplace safe from recognized hazards.”
Surveillance video released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office shows the shooter entering the store. To his left, a pallet is stacked with bottles of Gatorade, waiting to be unloaded.
Additional footage shows officers moving around items that blocked their path, even having to re-adjust their weapons to get past carts full of inventory.
Since 2017, OSHA has fined Dollar General $21 million for violations.
“OSHA does take repeat violations very seriously, especially when there have been investigations and fines in the past,” Poindexter said. “These types of inspections are trigger whenever someone is killed in the workplace.”
Poindexter said the consequences for serious violations can be hefty.
“That fine can go up to $126,000 as well as a notice that they have to change conditions in the workplace,” Poindexter said.
IN A STATEMENT TO FIRST COAST NEWS, A DOLLAR GENERAL SPOKESPERSON SAID:
“Since the hate-motivated violence that took place in our Kings Road store on August 26, our focus has remained on supporting and caring for our employees, the families of the victims and the Jacksonville community. We do not believe there is any connection between store conditions and the tragic events of August 26. We are cooperating with OSHA in what we understand to be its standard investigation protocol following such an event.
As previously announced, we plan to reopen a fully remodeled Kings Road store later this fall and look forward to the opportunity to continue serving the New Town area of Jacksonville.”