Parents Bemoan Tragic Ending to|Weekly Robberies of Penn. Rite Aid

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Rite Aid is responsible for the death of a man at the drug store, his parents claim in court, noting that the company had turned a blind eye as one of its security guards staged armed robberies there week after week.
     The 47-page complaint filed Thursday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas gives a damning recitation of the events that culminated with the Sept. 19, 2013, death of Jason McClay at the Rite Aid in Chester, Pa., where he worked.
     In the three weeks before two men shot McClay at point-blank range, Rite Aid’s risk-loss-prevention agent, Tariq Mahmud, had masterminded armed robberies of the Chester drug store on Sept. 4, Aug. 26 and Aug. 19, the complaint alleges.
     Each time that the Rite Aid was robbed was a day Mahmud did not show up for work, McClay’s parents say.
     The couple blames Rite Aid for failing after three armed robberies to take any measure that might “improve the safety and security of the Chester Rite Aid store,” or to investigate whether any of its employees “were providing inside information” in support of the crimes.
     They say Rite Aid actually knew Mahmud was complicit after the Sept. 4 robbery but delayed firing him or reporting him to law enforcement “to gather more evidence against him.”
     Mahmud was the getaway driver in one of the robberies, and McClay died because of animosity he attracted from the armed robbers, according to the complaint.
     Noting that Mahmud and his co-conspirators were found guilty of murder and conspiracy, the civil complaint McClay’s parents filed against Rite Aid quotes from evidence prosecutors used to convict them.
     Text messages between the robbers show that they called McClay the “bull” or the “white bull,” and complained about his activity during the robberies, according to the complaint.
     With regard to the “bull,” one text message the assailants sent in planning the Sept. 19 armed robbery said, “I’m gonna snap on him this time for not giving up all the bread lol,” the complaint states.
     McClay’s parents say this message shows that the assailants intended to kill McClay “for reasons personal to them and unrelated to his direct employment at the time of his killing.”
     The racial animosity against McClay for being white is also “unrelated to his employment at the Chester Rite Aid store,” the complaint states.
     Rite Aid allegedly knew as soon as Mahmud didn’t show up for work on Sept. 19 that a robbery was imminent.
     McClay’s parents say the drug store was supposed to employ private guards from Security Resources dba Honor Guard when an agent like Mahmud is not on duty.
     The store nevertheless failed to warn its employees when Mahum didn’t come to work on Sept. 19, and it acted “to save tens of dollars in hourly wages” by discharging the Honor Guard workers from their duty, according to the complaint.
     When the assailants entered the store at around the 10 p.m. closing time on Sept, 19, they “immediately sought out” McClay and shot him in the neck, out of the security camera’s view, “allowing him to bleed out and suffer for an extended period of time,” the suit says.
     The assailants then left the store without even attempting to rob the safe or register, according to the complaint, which notes that all five of them were later convicted or pleaded guilty to murder and conspiracy.
     Rite Aid and its corporate parent fired Mahmud on Sept. 20 “before any suspects were named and before any arrests were made … because of their prior knowledge or suspicion that Tariq Mahmud was the mastermind behind the armed robberies and the murder of Jason McClay,” the complaint states.
     McClay’s parents seek punitive damages from Rite Aid Corp., Rite Aid HDQRTS Corp. and Honor Guard for negligence and wrongful death.
     They are represented by Francis Curran Jr. in Media, Pa.
     Rite Aid declined an interview about the case, saying it does not discuss pending litigation.

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