Macy’s building owner, others sued over security precautions during December stabbing

Eric Harrison was killed at Macy's in December. His family said there should have been more security at the time of the incident.

Family of Eric Harrison announce a lawsuit

Family of Eric Harrison announce a lawsuit after his death at the Center City Macy's. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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The family of a man killed last month at the Center City Macy’s has filed a civil suit against the owner of the building and others.

Attorney Eric Zajac said the family of Eric Harrison can’t understand why there wasn’t sufficient security to prevent the fatal stabbing at the popular department store last year.

“Theft is rampant and criminals have become emboldened to do whatever they want as the criminal consequences are minimal. It’s basically become an open secret in Philadelphia that shoplifting and certain kinds of theft are not being prosecuted. They’ve essentially been decriminalized.”

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He added that there have been changes since the incident, changes he said should have occurred before the tragedy.

“After this tragic loss, if you walk into the Macy’s store, you will see private security guards, you will see armed city of Philadelphia Police officers. The fundamental question this family has — and we will get answers to — is why did someone have to die before that happened.”

Harison’s father Eric Coates said they are still trying to understand the lack of proper security.

“This senseless crime continues to affect our lives and the trauma continues to linger on. We struggle every day to try and make sense of this senseless thing that happened,” Coates said.

Harrison’s mother, Dawn Fobbs, works as a store manager and spoke about how the police weren’t called in enough and how reports weren’t made whether or not arrests happened.

“This is what I do day in and day out, so I know the kind of safety protocols that should have been taken, and what type of phone calls, what kind of reports should have been went in. So I’m taking it truly personal because this is what I do for a living.”

Fobbs said security was an issue she and her son discussed when he caught someone stealing as a loss prevention specialist.

“We talked all the time about it like, even though the police may not come, there still should have been a police [report] number for every time somebody comes in.”

She said the family doesn’t want to see another life lost to violence that could have been prevented.

The store did have off-duty Philadelphia Police officers working overtime for security purposes at the store on a rotating, random basis to act as a deterrent, but those officers were not on duty at the time of the incident.

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