Police and emergency crews respond to a shooting at the Boise Towne Square mall on Oct. 25, 2021. | Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – The California security company cited for a “serious” safety violation in connection with the Boise Towne Square mall shooting last year is appealing the decision.
A year after the October 2021 shooting, an extensive report on the shooting sheds light on three previous interactions the mall security staff had with the armed shooter, as well as the shooter’s conduct at other locations in the Treasure Valley and with a state legislator.
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Professional Security Consultants Inc., a Los Angeles company, provided security for the mall during the Oct. 25, 2021, shooting that left two people dead, including a security employee who was shot to death after approaching the armed gunman, Jacob Bergquist.
Bergquist later died by suicide behind a dumpster close to the mall, after shooting at police.
A gun clip found at the scene of the Boise Towne Square Mall shooting in October 2021. | Boise Police Department
CITATION APPEALED ON GROUNDS STANDARDS WERE ‘VAGUE’
In April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor that handles worker safety, cited the security company for a “serious” violation and fined it $14,502.
In a July 26 document, a lawyer for the security company said it “denies the allegations” that it violated federal worker safety rules, noting that the standards the company allegedly violated “are unenforceable due to vagueness.”
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In a list of defenses, the company said it had been expected to comply with standards it had not been given adequate notice to comply with, and that the rules it violated were “de minimis,” or trivial.
The company also said any potential violations were caused by “unforseeable employee and/or supervisory misconduct,” and that “there was no substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from the alleged condition.”
The citation indicated that OSHA took issue with the company’s policy of asking security workers to approach armed people rather than considering a “no-approach policy for high-risk situations” and instead calling law enforcement.
OSHA also said the company should better identify and track high-risk people, require security to immediately contact law enforcement in such instances, and conduct regular active shooter drills.
“Professional Security Consultants’ policies and procedures did not effectively address the risk of gun violence, a recognized hazard in the security services industry,” OSHA Area Director David Kearns said in a news release at the time.
A trial to resolve the matter is scheduled for next May before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, a federal agency that adjudicates OSHA cases.
A lawyer representing the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shattered glass escalators at the scene of an October 2021 shooting at the Boise Towne Square Mall. One of the shooting’s victims, Roberto Padilla Arguelles, was shot on an escalator. | Boise Police Department
BERGQUIST VISITED MALL 3 TIMES BEFORE SHOOTING
In an interview with Boise police, the mall’s security manager recognized Bergquist from a photograph and said the 27-year-old Boise resident had visited the mall on three prior occasions, each time with a gun.
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The first incident was “several months” before the shooting, when he entered the mall and was approached by a security employee, who advised him that firearms were prohibited.
In response, Bergquist said “it was a free country,” noted his “Second Amendment right” and called the rule a joke before leaving “without incident,” according to the interview.
In a second encounter, Bergquist again came in with a gun, complained after being approached by security, and left.
In a third encounter, which happened in April 2021 — six months before the shooting — Bergquist disparaged the mall’s policy with a profanity and told the employee he was on the “city council” and working with Boise police to change their policy, according to the report. After being told that the mall was private property, he said that “was a big excuse” and left.
“Each time Bergquist came in, he was carrying a pistol with extra magazines,” the report said. He would enter on the east side by Dillards and leave on the west side of Macy’s.
“Mall security is not allowed to enter into the Macy’s store unless there is an emergency so security did not follow Bergquist out of Macy’s when he left,” according to the report. “He never made any threats and left without incident each time.”
The security manager also said that the names of people who brought guns to the mall were not documented.
On the day of the shooting, Bergquist killed a security guard, Jo Acker, who approached him outside of the entrance to Macy’s. He then shot Roberto Padilla Arguelles on a nearby escalator, and fired more rounds inside Macy’s before exiting through the west entrance, according to the report.
Acker, 26, was a U.S. Army veteran from Caldwell. She had a 3-year-old daughter. Padilla Arguelles, 49, was a Mexican man on a work program in Rupert, which is east of Twin Falls. He was shopping for gifts at the mall and was planning to return home to family in two weeks when he died, according to previous Idaho Statesman reporting. He had three children and a grandson.
A hole in glass found at the scene of the Boise Towne Square Mall shooting in October 2021. | Boise Police Department
BERGQUIST’S SEARCH FOR WORK, CONDUCT WITH NEIGHBORS
The Boise police investigation into Bergquist uncovered that he had worked or looked for employment at multiple locations in the Boise area, including Walmart, Fred Meyer, a dry cleaner and a gun range.
He had been fired from a job at a Walmart in Meridian because he brought a gun to work and was confrontational with management when asked about it. At a local gym on State Street, Idaho Fitness Factory, he had repeatedly carried a firearm while working out, and had once “inadvertently pointed it (at) a member’s head while he was on a bench.”
At a gun shop and range in Boise called Impact Guns, he frequently came in to look around the store, and came in almost every day in the two or three weeks before the shooting, according to the report.
Bergquist had lived at a mobile home park in the Boise area for about six months and rarely had visitors, according to the report. Police said he moved to Idaho at the end of 2020.
A neighbor said he heard Bergquist talking to a camera as if he were making videos. Bergquist had a YouTube channel that no longer exists.
Another neighbor said she always saw him with a gun, and sometimes with an AR-15 rifle. Two days before the shooting, she saw him “pacing back and forth” in the road, talking loudly and angrily.
In a search of his residence, police found numerous bullet casings in a side yard and inside the home, along with bullet holes in the corner of the living room wall. A plywood board in the hallway had a “large number of bullet strikes/impacts,” the report said.
“Based on the location of the couch, the bullet strikes to the living room wall corner … are consistent with someone (Bergquist) sitting on the couch and target practice shooting,” the report said.
PRIOR INTERACTION WITH GOVERNOR, LEGISLATOR
As previously reported, Idaho State Police had reported Bergquist at the Idaho Statehouse, where he told the governor’s receptionist that he wanted to interview the governor about the rights of felons to carry guns.
In 2011, Bergquist had been charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell in Wisconsin, according to previous Statesman reporting. The charges were pleaded down to a misdemeanor. Had he been convicted of the felony charge, Idaho law would have prevented him from carrying a gun in the state.
In April 2021, Bergquist approached Rep. Chris Mathias, a Boise Democratic state legislator, on the steps of the Idaho Capitol, according to the report.
Mathias said Bergquist was not close enough to him to have seen his name tag, “so he believed he would have had to have researched him to recognize him,” the report said.
Bergquist was wearing all black and carrying a pistol, and after he called Mathias’s name, he asked Mathias “what he was going to do to restore his gun rights.”
Mathias told him to contact the Judiciary and Rules Committee at the Legislature, and Mathias kept walking to his appointment, the report said.
Statesman reporter Nicole Blanchard contributed.
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