The president of Nordstrom Rack has flown to St. Louis to personally apologize to three black teenagers who were falsely accused of shoplifting at the store's Brentwood, Missouri, location, according to KMOV.
High school students Mekhi Lee, Dirone Taylor and Eric Rogers II told the station they were shopping for prom clothes together at the store when they noticed several Nordstrom Rack employees following them.
"I was nervous the whole time," Lee recalled. "Every time we move, they move. When we looked up, they looked up."
Lee told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he called his mother who told him he should ask to speak with a store manager, but his request was denied.
To make the situation even more tense, the teens said another customer in the store also provoked them during the incident, calling them "punks" and asking them, "Are your parents proud of you for what you do?"
The teens admitted that a verbal altercation broke out following the comments, which prompted store management to step in.
"When she called us a punk, and she didn't have anything to do with the situation, everyone in the store is against us looking at us crazy, (and) we didn’t do anything," Lee told the Post-Dispatch. "I was totally embarrassed, and we're the only ones defending ourselves against everyone in the store."
Upon leaving the Nordstrom Rack, the students said they were greeted by Brentwood Police in the parking lot, who informed them that the store had accused them of shoplifting. KMOV reports that, after a brief investigation, the teens were let go without charges.
"The police were actually good," said Rogers. "They understood where we were coming from and they showed us that they were just doing their job."
"They also read us the police report where Nordstrom said we had stolen several items," Lee added.
Nordstrom Rack leadership confirmed that the company's president, Geevy Thomas, was in contact with the boys' families and was making arrangements to meet with them in order to apologize.
"We didn't handle this situation well, and we apologized to these young men and their families," Nordstrom Rack said in a statement. "We're enhancing our internal practices and trainings to help ensure this doesn’t happen again. We want all customers to feel welcome when they shop with us, and we don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind."