WASHINGTON - The discovery yesterday of the brutal slayings of three Starbucks Coffee employees in Georgetown has shocked the java chain at the highest ranks: Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz immediately flew here to console his employees and the victims' families.
To quell concerns of employees, Starbucks today began posting security guards in a few of the chain's 62 outlets in Washington and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, said Dean Torrenga, the company's regional director. The increased security will continue indefinitely.
The bodies of the three employees, ages 18, 24 and 25, were discovered in a back office yesterday. The workers, who last had been seen closing the coffee shop Sunday night, had been shot to death. An employee arriving to open the store found the bodies and ran screaming from the store and flagged down a driver in a passing bus, who called police.
Schultz spent most of yesterday meeting with employees, said Kenny Fried, a spokesman for Starbucks in the Mid-Atlantic region. Schultz sat through one long counseling session for employees of the Starbucks shop and then visited branch locations throughout the area.
"His No. 1 goal yesterday was to talk to the family of the victims," Fried said.
David Evans, father of victim Emory Allen Evans, 25, said that he had just gotten Starbucks' toll-free number yesterday when Schultz called him.
"I was a little surprised, too, because I was going to call him anyway," Evans said.
The conversation was short, Evans said. Schultz expressed his condolences; he also was planning to the family's home in Northeast Washington this afternoon.
Telephoning from the crime scene yesterday, Torrenga reached Schultz on vacation. The CEO canceled his vacation and flew to Washington.
The response, Torrenga said, "was Howard the human, not Howard the CEO."
"That's the kind of guy he is," Torrenga said. "That's what this company is all about. He cares about people, and that's what he cares about foremost."
The killings also have stunned the elite Georgetown community, a popular tourist destination. The area is not known for violent crime.