Are local malls safe from attacks?

December 12, 2012 3:50:32 PM PST
The shooting at the shopping mall in Oregon has sparked concerns about the safety of malls across the country and here in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys.

Malls are private property, but they have become in effect our Main Street, a place to shop and socialize.

In the past seven years, gunmen have shot or killed others in American malls on at least ten occasions.

Both the King of Prussia Mall and Upper Merion police declined to talk about security measures here at the nation's second largest mall.

But just last month police unveiled a massive camera control center focused on the mall and funded in part by federal taxpayers.

One of the first such mall shootings occurred in our area, on October 30,1985. A 25-year-old mentally ill woman, Sylvia Seegrist, used a rifle to kill three and wound seven at the Springfield Mall in Delaware County.

Patty Fellman of Media, Pa. remembers that day.

"I think about it every time I go to Springfield Mall," she told Action News, "so I'm always just a little conscious, look around."

But Fellman and others we asked view the risk associated with a mall gunman as slight.

"It is interesting," said Barbara Hoffman of Conshohocken, Pa. "We just came from the mall and I didn't even think about it. And yet I'd heard about it on the news,"

But security consultant Dale Yeager says malls can and should do much better.

Security audits, he says, indicate malls are understaffed and not watching for threats coming in the doors.

"First off all if you go to the local shopping mall, any shopping mall, you're going to notice that they don't have enough personnel to cover all the doors. You stop problems at the door," he said.

Someone with a rifle, he argues, should be spotted in the parking lot by a staff trained to look for threats.

"You need to be walking around those entrances and be trained in threat assessment," said Yeager. "The threat assessment training they do is less than what school teachers get."


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