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Downtown Walgreens killing: Drugstore chain cuts ties with security firm after fatal shooting of Banko Brown

A Kingdom Group Protective Services guard carries a kinetic energy weapon at Walgreens on Mission and 23rd streets in San Francisco. | Jonah Lamb/The Standard

Walgreens ended its relationship with the security guard company whose employee shot and killed 24-year-old Banko Brown in a San Francisco store last month, according to the CEO of the security firm.

Kingdom Group Protective Services CEO James Vierra told The Standard he received a call last week from Allied Universal Security Services, which subcontracted his firm to work security at Walgreens, telling him the chain no longer wanted his company in their stores. 

“We get it; we understand,” Vierra said, noting that the incident, which he described as rare, appeared to have shaped Walgreens’ perception of his company. “We received a phone call, and they said they wanted us to take all our armed agents off-site. It was a week ago.”

The April 27 fatal shooting of Brown by security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony after Brown allegedly tried to steal candy from the store has become a flashpoint over how San Francisco deals with property crime, with politicians condemning the act as violent and unnecessary, and protests erupting over District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ decision not to file charges in the case.

Juju, a Banko Brown family member, wipes away tears during the Town Hall at the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club in Milk-SF in San Francisco on Tuesday. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Anthony claimed Brown threatened to stab him as the pair fought inside the store. Anthony then shot Brown once after Brown exited the store. The DA said she did not file charges because Anthony acted in self-defense, a decision that was widely criticized after the release of video of the shooting

Neither Walgreens nor Allied Universal responded to requests for comment about the decision to keep Kingdom Group security guards out of the drugstores.  

Vierra said that his Manteca-based company has been providing roughly 20 Walgreens locations in the SF Bay Area with security for more than a year. He said the loss of the contract will have a detrimental effect on his staff of roughly 200, but that he understood the decision.

He also acknowledged the impact of the tragedy on everyone involved. 

“We are very, very sad that a life was lost. That’s the hardest part of anything,” Vierra said. “We are also thankful our officer, through the work of the DA, was found not [legally] responsible for this as well.” 

A memorial of flowers, candles and writings covered the sidewalk of the Walgreens where Banko Brown was shot by a Walgreens security guard. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

A number of guards who work for Kingdom Group but were not authorized to speak on the record said that they got notice a week ago that they would no longer have work at Walgreens. 

John Burris, the attorney for the Brown family, said the move by Walgreens does not absolve any of the players involved of responsibility. 

“I don’t know that that insulates either one of them from the shooting death of Banko Brown,” Burris said. “They had wrong policies of carrying firearms and stopping people abruptly.” 

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

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