It's a multimillion-dollar industry, but many of the employees work for just a few dollars an hour. NewsChannel5 Investigates found a common thread in many of Tennessee's security guard shootings.more>>
They're hired to keep us safe, but too often security guards wind up on the wrong side of the law.
The state reported only three security guard shootings in the last year and a half, but officials admit some cases are not reported to them -- and they only recently started keeping detailed records.
Attorney Nick Leonardo believed there was not enough state oversight.
"This industry is out of control. The regulations are grossly outdated and something needs to be done to protect the public," said Leonardo.
Our investigation discovered weak training requirements for guards and little state oversight of security companies can be a deadly combination.
Karen Villegas blamed a security guard for killing her 34-year-old son Adam.
"I just think about how many people loved Adam and how many friends he had," said Villegas.
Adam Villegas was shot in the Nippers Corner parking lot last year. Police charged security guard Jeremy Holmes with murder.
They said after an argument, Holmes ordered Adam Villages to stop and when he didn't the security guard shot him as he drove away.
"To be an armed security guard and have as little training as you have to have for that is kind of ridiculous," said Villegas.
State law requires just four hours of firearms training for armed security guards, but Metro police must take two full weeks of firearms training.
Armed guards also receive twelve hours of additional training. Much of the training is in the classroom, but state law provides few requirements about what, exactly they need to learn.
"Literally they could watch a film shoot a handful of rounds, smoke a cigarette the rest of the time and leave," said attorney Nick Leonardo.
Leonardo represented Karen Villegas in a lawsuit. He claimed the state should have known Holmes was a risk.
"There was no mechanism in place to ensure this particular rogue security guard could be taken off the street at the first sign of trouble," said Leonard.
A year before Holmes shot Adam Villegas, a couple claimed he attacked them. The couple sued. Holmes left his job, but the state does not track when or why security guards are fired or disciplined, so he got another job.
"If a security guard has been fired from a job maybe that should report to the state and on his record," said Karen Villegas.
The state agency that regulates security guards has 15 investigators to oversee thousands of armed guards. Those inspectors do not just review security guards. They regulate more than 25 other professions including barbers, auctioneers and locksmiths.
"You are aware it's a very tight budget situation and getting new positions is not a real likelihood," said Assistant Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance Steve Majchrzak.
The state's security guard laws have not changed much since 1987, especially when it came to firearms training.
"Sixteen hours of training is you know, it is what is and that's what's on the statue right now," said Majchrzak.
Karen Villegas believed tougher standards would save lives.
"If people knew that there were people running around with guns who were so little qualified to carry them they would probably be more scared than they are right now," said Villegas.
The state has become more aggressive in the last year and a half about tracking shootings and approving guard applications.
A jury will decide about whether security guard Jeremy Holmes is guilty. His trial for second degree murder is set for next month.
Tuesday at 10 p.m. NewsChannel5 Investigates looks at the type of training some say would be most effective and at a common trait in many security guard shootings.