Fact Check

Target Sues 'Hero' for Saving Stabbing Victim

Target did sue Michael Turner, a man who saved a girl from being stabbed in one of their stores, but the lawsuit was about more than that.

Published May 20, 2016

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Target sued a man for saving a girl from being stabbed in one of their stores.
What's True

Target stores filed a lawsuit against Michael Turner over a 2013 stabbing incident in one of their stores.

What's False

Target did not sue Turner for saving a girl from being stabbed in their store.

In May 2016, media outlets such as The Federalist published articles reporting that the Target retail chain was suing a man named Michael Turner for saving a girl from being stabbed to death in one of their stores:

This Man Saved A Girl From Being Stabbed To Death, And Now Target Is Suing Him For It

Michael Turner saved a 16-year-old girl from being stabbed to death, and Target wants him to apologize for it.

In 2013, Michael Turner saved the life of a 16-year-old girl who had been viciously attacked and stabbed in a Target store in Pennsylvania. And instead of thanking him for protecting its customers and preventing them from being murdered, Target is now suing him for his heroism and alleging he acted irresponsibly.

Such articles referenced an incident from March 2013 in which Michael Turner saved 16-year-old Allison Meadows after she was stabbed by Leon Walls inside a Pittsburgh Target store:

Police said three people — including a 16-year-old girl who was shopping with her family — were stabbed inside the East Liberty Target store by a homeless man who was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service for an unspecified probation violation.

The witness said he grabbed a bat that was on the ground and beat Walls with it, helping to subdue the man until police arrived. "That little girl, he just kept stabbing her. I just couldn't stand there and watch that. You can't stand there and watch that," he said. "It was crazy in there. That was horrible. That was something you don't want to see again, ever."

Turner [said], "I had to jump in because I couldn’t hear her screaming, the screaming ... it just got the best of me."

In the summer of 2015, a series of lawsuits were filed involving Allison Meadows, Target stores, and Meadows' attackers and rescuers. Meadows sued Target on the basis that the store had failed to keep her safe during the attack, while Target in turn sued Turner, Walls, and two other men involved in the incident.

However, Michael Turner was not sued merely for his having saved Allison Meadows from being stabbed. Rather, Target claimed that Turner and others had recklessly endangered customers when they brought a confrontation that had started outdoors into the store. News articles published at the time of the incident in March 2013, as well as articles published in July 2015 when the lawsuits were filed, detailed the events leading up to the attack on Meadows:

According to the criminal complaint, the incident began when Walls stabbed a man named Jobe Wright near a construction site on nearby Highland Avenue. Police said Walls ran down the street toward Penn Circle and into Target, followed by Wright, his friend Michael Turner, and Tyrique Walker, who called 911 to report their location, and Roland Smith, who grabbed a baseball bat to help Wright.

Once they were all inside the store, "Walls saw Walker and attempted to stab him with a large swing at his neck area," the complaint said. "Walls, missing his target, then moved towards the checkout area at the Target store where he began trying to stab additional victims who were in the store. Walls then grabbed Allison Meadows and held her against her will at knifepoint in one of the checkout lanes to use her as a shield. Victims Hosea Davis, Mike Turner, Jobe Wright and Roland Smith attempted to subdue Walls and to free Meadows when they saw him poke the knife into Meadows' back."

Turner gave his version of events to KDKA's Brenda Waters in 2015:

“Everyone thinks Walls walked inside Target and stabbed this little girl, but that’s not what happened, you had an encounter prior to that?” asked KDKA’s Brenda Waters.

“At this point, we were standing on Highland Avenue, and then that’s when Walls attacked Jobe Wright. At that point, Roland Smith and Tyreek Walker pursued behind him. At this point, I get in a car with Jobe Wright,” said Turner.

Turner says he and his friend got in a car to find Walls and when they arrived at Target another friend came out of the store and said “he’s in there.”

“I entered Target, I run up the escalator, I make a right, that’s when I encountered Walls in the store,” said Turner.

Turner says he and Walls exchanged words. He also says he went into the store with a baseball bat.

“He grabbed a little girl, he didn’t stab her at that point, he was talking, saying ... he was trying to get out the store and Jobe told him, ‘You’re not going nowhere ’til the police come,'” said Turner. “And that’s when he started saying, ‘Y’all think I’m playing, y’all think I’m playing. I’m not playing.’ And he stabbed her the first time. Then he stabs her again.”

But now the store is saying if Turner had not gone after Walls with the baseball bat, Allison would not have been stabbed.

“Well, if the guy hadn’t gone on a stabbing spree, we wouldn’t be standing here talking either. So, they’re not looking at that,” said Turner.

Roland Smith and Jobe Wright are also named in the suit with Turner, along with Walls who is in jail.

The lawsuit went to trial in May 2016.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.