Overall, I am no fan of megastores, because I spent much of my working life as a small town newspaper publisher, and I saw many small mom and pop businesses fold that could not compete with the giant retailers.
However, a news story making the rounds this week really has me ticked off. Some of you may be familiar with the story of Carl and Tracy Coltellino, RVers who, along with their two young daughters, were spending the night parked at a WalMart store, in Cedar City, Utah back in 2006, when they got into an altercation with a stranger who was creating a ruckus in the parking lot. When he knocked on their door, they opened it, a fight ensued, and the intruder, a man named Steven Stubbs, was killed in the struggle. The weapon used was a shotgun that the Coltellinos had in their RV.
No charges were filed in the shooting, but in a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, it is reported that the Coltellinos are now suing WalMart, claiming that the store was negligent in not protecting them, claiming that they have suffered medical problems and emotional distress from the incident.
This story is so wrong in so many ways that I don’t even know where to start. When I first heard about it back in 2006, my first reaction was, “Why did these fools open their door to the crazed man?” They could have driven away, or called the police. Why did they have a loaded shotgun accessible with their two young girls in the motorhome? If it was safely stored away, and they had time to get it out and load it, again, why didn’t they instead take the time to call the police, or drive away?
And now they want to sue WalMart for the dangerous situation they put themselves in. Yeah, real nice. Thanks for your hospitality WalMart. You saved me $30 bucks on the cost of a campground. Oh, by the way, screw you, too, here’s a lawsuit!
We are fulltime RVers and have spent many nights parked at WalMart stores, truck stops, rest areas, etc. Even if somebody came to my door at night wearing a police officer’s uniform and driving a marked car, I wouldn’t open my door until I called 911 to be sure if he was for real.
I have no doubt that the Coltellino family was traumatized. Any time you have a violent encounter, it leaves a mark on your psyche. And having to take a human life is one of the worst things that anybody can ever go through, no matter what the circumstances. Even police officers and soldiers are scarred by the experience.
Last December we encountered an armed burglar in our RV while it was parked at a repair shop in Indiana. Fortunately, in the struggle that followed, nobody was killed. The bad guy got away with several broken bones, and he’s now behind bars, where he had already spent much of his life, and will spend a lot more, hopefully.
I have been exposed to violence in the past, and I’ve seen some things most people never have to see. But the event still left me shaken and second guessing myself for days afterward. My poor wife, who had not experienced that kind of thing first hand, was also very upset.
After our encounter, several people said we should have sued the RV repair shop where it happened. Why? The shop didn’t invite the thug to break into our coach.
Nor did WalMart make the Cedar City shooting happen by their negligence. If anyone is to blame for what happened there, besides the intruder himself, it is the couple in the RV, who did everything wrong, and still managed to escape with their lives and those of their children. And now they expect to profit off of it.
If I were the CEO of WalMart and was presented with this lawsuit, I’d issue an immediate order barring all RVers from parking on any company property ever again. And if that happens, we can all thank the Coltellinos and whatever shyster lawyer they have helping with this idiotic lawsuit.
Tags: armed burglar, Cedar City Utah WalMart shooting, emotional distress, giant retailers, home invasion, lawsuit, loaded shotgun, megastores, motorhome, police, police officer’s uniform, police officers, shotgun, small mom and pop businesses, small town newspaper publisher, soldiers, violence, WalMart, WalMart store in Cedar City Utah, weapon