Some witnesses are saying that emergency doors they tried to use after they heard shots fired at Costco wouldn’t open, preventing them from leaving the store during a shooting at a Costco in Corona, California on Friday night. They told multiple news sources that this added to the panic. An issue with the doors has not been confirmed, so it’s unclear at this time exactly what happened. Costco has not yet responded publicly about the doors as of the time of publication. Here is what the witnesses are saying.
ABC 7 reported that after shots were fired and people tried to escape, they found that the doors were locked. This added to the panic in the room.
Naveed Navi and Rochelle Flores, who were in Costco when the shots were fired, told KTLA 5 the same thing. They said they tried to escape through emergency doors, but the doors wouldn’t open. Flores said she hurt her hand trying to force the doors to open.
Flores told KTLA 5: “It’s not very fun when you’re scared and you’re running for your life, and you’re trying to open a door that says ’emergency’ and they don’t open. Everybody was freaking out. People were falling over each other.”
She said that everyone ended up having to run through the front entrance doors and many felt traumatized by the whole thing.
A Twitter user named @j_spanish also said that he was at Costco and was injured trying to go through the doors as well. “I’m trying to figure out why the hell your emergency doors couldn’t open at the Corona Costco tonight during the f***ing shooting…” He later wrote: “Omg yes it is and I’m pretty sure they will justify this but people got hurt going for the doors I did some other guy did and a lady on the news said she was hurt as well.”
He also wrote the following: “For those saying there is a delay to emergency doors, you guys wont understand why people are mad because you was not there. Someone is literally killing people in a store I shouldnt have to wait 15 seconds to go through an emergency door. You can let off 13 shots in 15 seconds.” [sic]
On Twitter, @ReeU129 shared another story from friends who were there and couldn’t get the emergency doors opened. However, these witnesses believed the emergency doors were latched. The story they shared included Fabian Irani sharing: “Our exit didn’t open that easily… We thought this is it… The someone came and had to open a latch at the bottom. Who the f*** latches an emergency exit.” [sic]
One person was killed in the shooting after an argument broke out in the store, and one to two people were injured. The suspect is in custody.
People familiar with Costco stores are chiming in with their ideas about what might have happened. Spencer Thomas, who works for a Costco in Seattle, wrote on Twitter: “I work for Costco up by Seattle. The doors are not locked. The ones at our wharehouse [sic] are on a 10 to 12 second time delay before they open. Not sure why the doors are set like that. I know shoplifters have been caught with being off guard the doors don’t open right up.”
And an employee in Canada said the fire exit doors there are on a 15-second delay.
This isn’t the first time that Costco’s exit doors have been the subject of speculation in the news. In July 2018, WFAA reported that a robbery at a Costco in Dallas revealed that the emergency exit doors wouldn’t open during that situation either. Matt Jackson, who was at Costco with his wife during the robbery, told WFAA that he heard people yelling “Gun!” so he ran to the nearest emergency exit and it wouldn’t open. He said he was thinking: “Am I going to die, is this how it ends, like why aren’t these doors opening? And I see people around me, this look of fear that I’ve never seen in people before.”
He said none of the emergency exits would open for anyone. He later filed a complaint with the Dallas Fire Marshall’s office. A fire inspector said the doors were working but they were on a 15-second delay before they would open. In Dallas, the building code allows a delay of up to 30 seconds if a business requests it. Costco made the request to minimize theft. Only fires or power outages will deactivate the wait period. In that store, signs were posted near the doors saying that they open after 15 seconds. But Jackson said that was too long in a life or death situation.
To be clear, it is not known if the Corona Costco has a similar policy or if the building codes in Corona allow for this. Witnesses are saying the emergency exits in the Corona Costco wouldn’t open, but it’s not clear why this happened. Costco has not yet responded officially. This story will be updated when more details are known.