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- Walmart CEO Doug McMillon spoke to Fortune about the moment he learned of the El Paso shooting.
- The shooting took place in an El Paso Walmart store and claimed 22 lives.
- "What’s going through our minds first and foremost is the safety of our associates and our customers," McMillon told Fortune.
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Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was just about to grab lunch with his wife, Shelley, when he got the call about the El Paso shooting. That day, Saturday, August 3, was the day that 22 people were killed in a shooting in a Texas Walmart.
Fortune interviewed McMillon about a number of topics, including how he first learned of the shooting.
"My wife and I were going out to get lunch and diverted to the home office, and she dropped me off," McMillon told Fortune.
The CEO said that he and a team representing a range of different departments convened in Walmart’s emergency operations center in Bentonville, Arkansas. McMillon said the center allowed the retail giant’s leadership to glean information about the shooting and keep in contact with both law enforcement and Walmart employees in El Paso.
"What’s going through our minds first and foremost is the safety of our associates and our customers," he said. "So the process starts out with being able to locate and confirm the safety of every one of our associates. There’s kind of a real-time roll call that happens. And we stick with that until it’s complete."
McMillon said that the day he visited El Paso to speak with store employees in the wake of the shooting was "a day I’ll never forget." The CEO sat with the local store manager and a number of assistant managers and met with associates.
"The purpose in going was to just hug the people and listen to them," he said. "And we had set up a resource center at a nearby hotel and invited our associates to come in if they wished to talk about things, and to answer their questions, and our management team was all there on Tuesday."
Walmart has attracted criticism for continuing to sell guns after the El Paso shooting, but McMillon has called on Congress to debate an assault weapons ban.
"We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness in keeping weapons made for war out of the hands of mass murderers," McMillon said in a statement on Thursday. "We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior."
In the Fortune interview, McMillon also singled out the company’s active shooter training, saying that he felt that the store employees in El Paso acted in such a way that "we all feel very confident that lives were saved and seconds were gained."
McMillon added that he’s not sure how long the store will remain closed, because it’s ultimately up to law enforcement. He also mentioned that he visited the chain’s Southaven, Mississippi, store after a suspect who police said was a Walmart employee shot and killed a store manager and a department manager.
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