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Saturday February 29th, 2020 4:23AM

Walmart scrubs depictions of violence from stores nationwide

By The Associated Press
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Walmart is removing from its stores nationwide signs, displays or videos that depict violence following a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, store that killed 22 people.

The retailer instructed employees in an internal memo to remove any marketing material, turn off or unplug video game consoles that show violent games — specifically Xbox and PlayStation units, and to make sure that no violence is depicted on screens in its electronics departments.

Employees were also ordered to turn off hunting season videos in the sporting goods department.

Under the heading: "Immediate Action," employees were instructed to "Review your store for any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior. Remove from the salesfloor or turn off these items immediately."

"We've taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week," said spokeswoman Tara House in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

The company's policy on video games that depict violence has not changed, nor has its policy on gun sales.

There is no known link between violent video games and violent acts.

Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University who focuses on video games, found in his research that men who commit severe acts of violence actually play violent video games less than the average male. About 20% were interested in violent video games, compared with 70% of the general population, he explained in his 2017 book "Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong."

Authorities believe Patrick Crusius, 21, wrote a racist, rambling screed that railed against mass immigration before opening fire last weekend at the El Paso Walmart. Crusius lived near Dallas, and El Paso police say he drove more than 10 hours to the largely Latino border city in Texas to carry out the shooting that killed 22 people and wounded about two dozen others. He's been charged with capital murder.

Chris Ayres, a Dallas-based attorney for Crusius' family, told The Associated Press in an email they never heard Crusius express the kind of racist and anti-immigrant views that he allegedly posted online.

The killings in Texas, followed by another in Dayton, Ohio, just hours later that left nine dead, have put the country on edge.

On Thursday, five days after the El Paso shooting, panicked shoppers fled a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, after a man carrying a rifle and wearing body armor walked around the store before being stopped by an off-duty firefighter.

No shots were fired and the man was arrested after surrendering.

A backfiring motorcycle in New York's Times Square set off a stampede Tuesday. Video footage showed the throngs rushing out of the busy tourism and entertainment area, some taking cover behind vehicles and in doorways.

The New York Police Department took to social media saying, "There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots."

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