Former security guard sues over fake robbery at Grand Central Mall

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 4, 2010

PARKERSBURG -- A former security guard at a Wood County shopping mall is hoping to get the last laugh on former mall employees who made him the subject of realistic prank.

Christopher Cullum filed suit on May 13 in Wood Circuit Court against Donald Paul Anderson, Mary Ann Moreland, Cody Barrett and Sara Holland. In his complaint, Cullum, a Williamstown resident, alleges the four played a joke on him by making him believe an armed robbery was taking place while he was on duty as a security guard at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna.

Both the mall, and Lemon and Barrett's, a motorcycle and ATV dealership where the fake armed robbery took place, are named as co-defendants in the suit.

According to the suit, Cullum was working as security guard at the mall on May 14, 2008. It is unclear when he began working there.

At a time not specified, Cullum alleges Anderson, 24, Moreland, 23, both of Parkersburg, Barrett, 23, of Davisville, and Holland, a Belpre, Ohio resident, would "initiate" his employment by staging an armed robbery in one of the mall's service hallways. Though records state Holland worked for the mall, and Barrett for Lemon and Barrett's, it is unclear if Anderson and Moreland were similarly employed with either.

After the mall closed that evening, Cullum alleges Holland let Barrett, Anderson and Moreland into the service hallway through a secured door. All three where wearing ski masks with Anderson armed with a semi-automatic Air Soft pistol.

Upon confronting him, Cullum alleges Anderson "under threat of force" took away his radio. Anderson also asked for Cullum to surrender his handcuffs, but he refused.

Thereafter, Anderson handed the pistol to Barrett and "engaged in a physical altercation with [Cullum]." The fact he was being assaulted at gunpoint by three masked intruders led Cullum to believe "he was engaged in an actual armed robbery, and was in great apprehension for his life."

During the altercation, Anderson's ski mask became removed thus prompting Anderson to remove his and inform Cullum the robbery was a "joke." The entire altercation, Cullum alleges, was recorded by Moreland who supposedly later uploaded it to YouTube.

In his suit, Cullum alleges he was not the first victim of pranks pulled by Holland, Barrett, Anderson and Moreland. He provides no specifics except that both the mall and Lemon and Barrett's "had knowledge of similar conduct" but "did not adequately address or correct [it]."

It is unclear how long Cullum remained employed with the mall. However, his suit states he is currently on active duty with the Air Force.

Lemon and Barrett, which has its main office and showroom in Mineral Wells, vacated its space at the mall earlier this year.

In his suit, Cullum alleges the incident resulted in him "suffer[ing] great physical, mental and emotional injuries and distress to such a significant degree that is likely that he will be adversely affected by same for the remainder of his life." Both during and following the incident, Cullum says he's incurred "physical injury, psychological damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent damage, diminution of earning capacity and endured a loss of capacity to enjoy life."

Cullum seeks unspecified damages, court costs and attorney fees. He is represented by Parkersburg attorneys James R. Leach and Victoria J. Sopranik.

The case is assigned to Judge Robert A. Waters.

Wood Circuit Court case number 10-C-189

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