Students recall unsafe encounters at Neighborhood Walmart

The Neighborhood Walmart located on University Drive has attracted a reputation of being unsafe for female students. Many women have stories about the grocery store, but only three students were willing to share their experiences.

On Sept. 8, SFA student Emma Glaser experienced what she said was the “scariest experience of [her] life,” at the Neighborhood Walmart located on University street in Nacogdoches.

According to a Facebook post made by Glaser on the night of the incident, she said she was walking to her car when she saw a middle-aged black man standing by a car parked next to hers. 

“As soon as I walked out with my groceries, he saw me and nodded to the lady he was with, so she would notice I was coming,” Glaser said in the Facebook post. “I started walking really fast to my car. He was looking at me and kept saying, ‘This is so embarrassing. Our car won’t start and we need help.’”

She ignored him as she kept walking to her car when the woman approached her.

“I got to my car and literally the woman was like two feet away and kept saying, ‘Please help us, please help us.’”

Glaser closed the door to her car and locked it before the woman reached her car. 

“As I was turning on my car, she was hitting my window saying, ‘I’m harmless, I’m harmless, please help me.’” Glaser said. “I tried to pull out as fast as I could without hitting her and got out of there.”

According to the post, Glaser knew what was happening as soon as she walked out of Walmart.

“It was basically scripted. It was by the grace of God that I didn’t have a shopping cart with me, that I turned my car on and got out of there as fast as I did.”

In her post, she concluded by giving a precaution for everyone to choose when they go to Walmart wisely.

“Never go to Walmart by yourself or at night,” Glaser said. “It sucks to be a girl and have to worry about this, but this is real and happens when you wouldn’t expect it. I just wanted to post this so girls in the area, and anywhere honestly, are safe and don’t make the mistake I did. I’m so lucky that I got out of there fast and that I’m safe.”

Glaser updated the post to say that she called the police and informed them of the situation. She said the police said they were going to patrol the area. Public information officer, Sgt. Brett Ayers said there is no record of the incident being called in or reported by name or by location. 

“If something did occur and she hasn’t reported something to us, I would highly encourage anyone that speaks to her to let her know so that we can be aware of it and we can look into it,” Ayers said.

Glaser is not the first student to have such experiences at the Neighborhood Walmart. Rahaf Shawakfeh, junior communication, sciences and disorders major from Pineland, said her experience happened back in February around Valentine’s day. She walked into the store and paused to calculate what she had to buy when she noticed a man lingering. 

“I didn’t sense anything weird until there were two Walmart workers behind me,” Shawakfeh said. “A man approached me and began to ask me about copy paper. I was like, ‘I don’t know why you’re asking me when there’s two employees behind you.’ He got weird when I told him I guess I used it before. It was good copy paper. I don’t know.” 

She said the man looked at her for a moment before he said, “I was just wondering if I could ask you out sometime,” she said the man looked like he was about 40 years old. 

“I was like, ‘I’m sorry,’” Shawakfeh said.  “I kind of stuttered because I got scared. It had never happened to me before, and I guess the way he approached me about it. I just grabbed my stuff and went to the cash register.”

She said the man followed her to self-checkout and stood behind her with the copy paper.

“I texted my organization GroupMe, ‘This man I feel like is going to follow me out the store, I don’t know what to do, someone call me,’” Shawakfeh said. 

Shawakfeh said that as soon as the man saw her on her phone, he dropped the copy paper and exited the store immediately. “Turns out the same day, the same man was on campus trying to talk to girls.”

Shawakfeh said she assumed it was sex trafficking. Shawakfeh said the man was a 40-year-old brown man, wearing a long sleeve blue shirt. 

“It doesn’t really register with me that I need to be aware of everybody in my surroundings, especially Nacogdoches because it is a small town,” Shawakfeh said. “I think that’s what made me an easy target. I was alone. You all need to be aware and carry some type of protection with you.”

In comparison to the other Walmart in Nacogdoches, Shawakfeh had some insight as to why one is more commonly a dangerous problem than the other. 

“Why is that place such an easy target for college students?” Shawafeh said. “The big Walmart, maybe because more college students work there or it’s on a busy street and Neighborhood Walmart is off University.”

Shawakfeh recommends parking lot security to prevent these incidents from happening. Another student, a senior education major, said she had a similar experience.

“I’ve gone late-ish, around 8:30 or 9 p.m., and I’ve had an old creepy man make sexual comments toward me,” she said. “[He was] just like a basic creepy old man. White man with white hair, white mustache and beard and brown eyes. He said something along the lines of, ‘Oh, you can just come home with me,’” she said.

The student said the incident happened this summer.

“I was getting a bunch of junk food from the Walmart, and he made a comment about how it looked like I was going to have a fun night. So, I laughed and just said yeah. And that’s when he said I could have a fun time at his place,” she said.

Another student, Chloe Greer, a junior computer science major from Little Elm, said that she had a similar experience at the same Neighborhood Walmart.

“Within five minutes of being there, the same dude cornered me by the surge protectors and kept telling me how sexy I was and kept asking me how old I was,” Greer said. “He followed me around the Walmart until I left. Then, he even walked my friend and I back to her car, griping about not getting my number.”

None of the incidents these students talked about were reported to Nacogdoches PD. 

Neighborhood Walmart declined an interview.

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