Mo. retailer who sold to Co. shooter getting backlash
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A suburban St. Louis-based online retailer who sold gear to Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes is being inundated with “hostile and threatening” messages, the company’s CEO said Tuesday.
TacticalGear.com filled an order received on July 2 from Holmes, who allegedly opened fire inside an Aurora, Colo., theater on Friday, killing 12 people. Holmes paid $306.79 for an urban assault vest, two magazine pouches and a tactical knife.
Chief Executive Officer Chad Weinman said despite its name, the urban assault vest is not bulletproof, but is simply a vest made for carrying accessories.
Weinman posted a statement on the company website Monday, saying the firm has received numerous calls and emails claiming it has “blood on our hands.” In an interview, Weinman said some of the calls and emails have been threatening, hostile and hurtful, sometimes leaving customer service workers in tears.
“It definitely puts a lot of stress on our call center when people just trying to go about their jobs are made to feel like they had something to do with what happened in Colorado,” Weinman said.
TacticalGear.com, a privately-held company in Chesterfield, Mo., has 40 employees. Weinman said about 80 percent of sales are to law enforcement and military customers. Corporate security, hobbyists, survivalists and paintball-gun enthusiasts make up most of the rest.
The company put out a statement on the day of the shooting noting that it did not sell guns or ammo to Holmes. Weinman said that since then, many gun rights supporters have also been critical, believing the company’s statement showed a soft stance on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“That was not the spirit of what we were communicating,” Weinman said. “To set the record straight, we do not condemn the firearms dealers or ammunition dealers. It’s just one of those things that I’m not sure how much you can do to prevent it when you have somebody with this kind of mindset.”