On November 9, at about 1:15 p.m., shoppers making their way inside the Target located at 3424 College Avenue would have noticed a heated argument in the parking lot.
Sonia Serrano Zavala, a 43-year-old mother and daycare owner, stopped and watched a security guard in a golf cart “insult” a lady holding a baby. Instead of walking into the store, Zavala took out her phone and video-recorded the incident.
“You are here illegally [and] panhandling,” said the security guard to the lady holding the baby. “You gotta have an ID if you are an immigrant ma’am…you’re illegally here.”
On the video, there is a woman in a green shirt watching the conflict near the Target entrance.
“You are having babies and probably on welfare,” said the security guard, “… we got you on YouTube last time — you and your other friends.”
The lady in green then walks toward them.
“[Did] you hear the video?” Zavala asked in an interview on November 12. “He was asking her if she had a visa [and] a visa is a card for immigration…. She’s a human being; you don’t talk to anybody that way.”
In the video, the lady in the green shirt approaches the young mom and security guard. “This is a security guard and not a policeman,” she told the mom. “You leave these people alone,” she told the security guard.
“No panhandling on private property ma’am,” the security guard said. “[If] you’re so worried about her, you give her some money.”
The lady in green said she would. She pulled out her wallet and took out some bills. She handed them to the mom and gave her a hug.
The security guard persisted: “She’s here illegally ma’am.”
“So? You don’t talk to her that way,” Zavala responded in the video. “Be more professional.”
The argument got louder and meaner between the three, including insults of "fat ass" and "ugly bitch” exchanged between the woman in a green shirt (who started the cursing) and the security guard.
“The reason why I told him off is because he called the black lady [in green] a demon,” Zavala said in the interview.
In the video, the security guard said that the mom had been panhandling in the parking lot regularly and, in doing so, was endangering the baby’s life. He also said the panhandler is a scam artist because she and her husband allegedly have a new car and live in a condo. The two women backing up the panhandler responded, “So what?” and that he should call the cops instead of yelling at the panhandler.
“They have been doing this already,” the security guard said. “It’s a scam that they are running, don’t you understand?”
“…and I’m going to report you to your company, too,” Zavala said.
“You report all you want. This is my job ma’am [and] it’s what I get paid for,” said the security guard.
Zavala noticed that the security guard’s uniform indicated he worked for Universal Protection Service. An online search led to a Yelp page with 28 entries that rate the company with one out of four stars. There are 11 photos posted on the page and one of them depicts an overweight man in a golf-cart — seemingly the same security guard — accused in March of calling a woman “pathetic, useless, lowlife and mutiple [sic] other curse words all in front of the Walmart customers, including children”; a caption beneath his photo reads “unstable.”
Zavala’s video had 650,000 views, and many people had commented. One commenter shared a link to a Channel 10 report made in 2014 that depicted a pregnant panhandler who was said to resemble the panhandler in Zavala’s video.
Zavala said that after she stopped recording the confrontation on her phone, she walked the panhandler into Target to show the store manager the video. “[The manager said that] he does not work for Target and she told me to email her the video.”
UPDATE 11/13, 2 p.m.
In response to a request for comment, Universal Protection Service's PR representative sent the following via email: "The behavior of this employee is not reflective of the standards we have set for our security professionals, and we will address it."