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Woman sues for gun ban in Kroger grocery stores after father's murder

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This article, Woman sues for gun ban in Kroger grocery stores after father's murder, originally appeared on CBSNews.com

Kellie Watson said she was just finishing her workday last October when she received a phone call from her 12-year-old son.

"It was unbelievable to hear the fear and panic in his voice," she said.   Her son told her that her father, 69-year-old Maurice Stallard, had been shot. Stallard had been shopping for school supplies with his grandson at a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, when a , killing two – including Stallard.

Watson said the only thing that stopped the alleged gunman from shooting her son was that he ran.

"If he hadn't run, I probably would not have my son or my father right now," she said.

Watson and her mother, Charlotte Stallard, filed a civil lawsuit against Kroger last week asking the chain to ban guns in its stores. "Who would have known that Kroger would allow people to just walk in, carry their guns on their waistband and just pull them out?" she said.

Currently, Kroger does not have a policy prohibiting customers from bringing firearms into their stores. The company released a statement on its website stating that their longstanding policy on the issue is to follow state and local gun laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping.   "You don't need a gun to buy groceries," said Ron Johnson, the Stallard family's attorney. "…You can't carry a gun into your school, you can't carry a gun into the courthouse… And what we're simply saying is grocery stores need to do the same thing."

The alleged gunman, Gregory Alan Bush, was indicted by a federal grand jury for hate crimes. This October, a judge will determine if Bush is mentally competent to stand trial.

Speaking about her father, Watson said, "To think that this man, as loving and caring as he was, to have been taken from us in the way that he was taken, because of someone else's hate… it's unbelievable at times."   The lawsuit details more than two dozen gun-related incidents resulting in eight deaths inside and outside of Kroger stores nationwide.   "The duty of a store in Kentucky is to provide a safe place to shop. That is the law," Johnson said. "So retailers like Target and Starbucks have said, 'Having guns in our stores is not consistent with having a safe place to shop,' so they don't allow guns."   "Can a judge force an entity like Kroger to change its policy?" asked "CBS This Morning" national correspondent Jericka Duncan.

"All a judge or a jury can do is give damages to those who are harmed when Kroger doesn't meet its duty," Johnson said.     Watson said she hopes her lawsuit will help make public spaces safer and keep other families from suffering similar losses. "It is traumatic. It is violent. It is dramatic. It is painful…" she said. "We have to do something to try to prevent these things from happening again to others." A spokesperson from Kroger told CBS News they do not comment on pending litigation, but they extended their deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the senseless violence.

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