WICHITA FALLS, TX – The Plex Family Entertainment Center is under fire for forcing people outside of its complex during a tornado warning. Management cleared the building and told everyone to wait outside until they could find a way home or be picked up. Photos of children standing outside went viral on social media, raising anger and questions about the safety precautions in place at the center.
“There were a couple of mistakes made,” Owner Doug McCulloch said. “If a tornado hits this metal building, the whole building and all of its contents will be destroyed, and we didn’t want that,” he continued.
Reylando Franco-Juarez was one of the children who was forced out of the building into the storm. He attempted to get inside a nearby McDonald’s, which had locked its doors as a matter of policy during emergencies. “One of the employees was about to let me in,” Juarez said, “and the manager just [shook her head.]”
Gabriella Leija, another teen who was kicked out said, “They shut all of the games down, they shut everything and then on the announcement they said, ‘The Plex does not have a tornado shelter so everyone please go outside. So we walk outside and they lock the doors and all of the Plex people start leaving.”
The Plex center’s social media page posted later, “Why oh why would a parent leave a child unattended at any business when we were warned for several days that severe weather was possible today? Maybe dropping off your children without adult supervision is part of the problem?”
That post was later deleted.