Shopping Continues After Walmart Murder

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 4:26pm

Store stays open after fatal stabbing.

After a woman was stabbed to death in a Walmart over the weekend, the store has experienced criticism from some for staying open following the fatal attack.

Deputies said they were called to the Walmart in Berea, South Carolina at 1:21 p.m. about a physical altercation at the store.

Witnesses told deputies a man and a woman got into a fight and that the man stabbed the woman and fled.

The woman, now identified as 38-year-old Lilia Blandin, was found with injuries and taken to the hospital where she died, according to the coroner.

The coroner said Blandin was an employee of Woodforest Bank inside the Walmart store, and was working at the time of the incident.

On Sunday, Master Deputy Jennings Autrey said the victim's husband, Avery Blandin, was under guard at Greenville Memorial Hospital and was charged with murder.

Autrey said Blandin drove away from the scene but wrecked his car before being arrested Saturday afternoon.

Several customers were appalled that Walmart stayed open for business through the stabbing and the aftermath.

"I saw there was blood everywhere, on the ground, on the table, on the wall," said Brittany King, a shopper who arrived shortly after the stabbing. "It's disrespectful to the family that it happened to. Especially the people and the employees who saw it happen."

"From what I can see, they never really gave the employees that opportunity to recuperate," said Bob Quarles, who said he walked into the store just as the attack happened.

Master Deputy Jennings Autrey said the decision to stay open was up to the management at the store.

"The shoppers are not affecting the crime scene," Autrey said. "I just want to be clear on that, that it has been roped off and deputies are there protecting the integrity of the crime scene."

"We did, as requested, close our grocery checkout area to allow the police to do their work and provide some level of privacy, given the circumstances."
"This was a senseless act of violence, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family during this difficult time," Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee later said.

Gee said Walmart was assisting investigators with the investigation and that it turned over surveillance video from the store.

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