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Mall security company cited for workplace violations related to Boise Towne Square shooting

Boise mall shooting 2.jpg
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Police closed a street outside the Boise Towne Square mall while responding to a shooting on Oct. 25, 2021.

A federal investigation triggered by last October’s Boise Towne Square Mall shooting has found a Los Angeles-based private security company contracted by the mall violated labor standards and repeatedly exposed its employees to workplace violence hazards.

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) investigated after the shooting, which injured four people and killed two: shopper Roberto Arguelles and mall security guard Jo Acker.

“Professional Security Consultants’ policies and procedures did not effectively address the risk of gun violence, a recognized hazard in the security services industry,” OSHA Boise Area Director David Kearns said in a statement.

The investigation showed security employees failed to follow company procedures for interacting with armed individuals to enforce the mall’s code of conduct, which forbids weapons.

Professional Security Consultants employs about 2,900 people at shopping centers and provides private and event security across the United States. OSHA proposed a $14,502 fine against the company and provided recommendations for creating a workplace violence prevention program.

“Every worker has the right to a safe and healthful workplace. This employer must provide enhanced safeguards and training to ensure workers have the knowledge and tools to better protect themselves against assault,” Kearns said.

Gunman Jacob Bergquist was well-known to mall security as a regular violator of the mall’s weapons-free policy. On October 25 last year, Acker confronted Bergquist inside the mall. Bergquist began to walk away before turning back around and firing on Acker, killing her.

The family of Roberto Arguelles has filed a tort claim seeking damages against multiple law enforcement agencies and elected officials, saying Bergquist repeatedly demonstrated a threat to the community and officials did not do enough to stop him from a violent act.

An operator at Professional Security Consultants declined to comment on OSHA’s citation when reached by phone Tuesday.