permission to print image: Gale
Chaos and fear flooded the hallways of Polaris Fashion Place on March 15. This was the second shooting at the mall in two weeks.
While no one was injured in these shootings, levels of shock and anxiety spread amongst customers and employees. Local clothing store, Jakes Toggery, was impacted by the shootings.
“The first shooting there was not a lot of fear because I thought it was a misunderstanding and that someone dropped some construction material. We are always hearing loud noises going on but looked up to be safe when we saw people running. We were pretty well informed on what was happening at any given moment because we are in a group chat with a lot of other mall managers,” assistant manager of Jakes Toggery Tommy Gallaher said.
Shots were fired by two men in Carters on the lower level of the mall on March 3. Customers ran in every direction trying to head to the safety of their cars or even to the back rooms of retail stores.
“We had customers in the store this time, so we made sure to direct them to our back room while we locked up. We knew pretty quickly that it was an altercation rather than a mass shooter situation so after that initial fear it was just a feeling of anxiousness waiting to be evacuated,” Gallaher said.
Since the shootings the mall security has stepped up in patrolling the mall. Managers and associates talked after the first shooting and were better prepared for the second shooting.
“Having run through the procedure a couple of times now, we are able to get locked up and lights out pretty quickly. In addition, we are working on making sure the entire staff is proficient in our emergency procedures and know where to find answers if there is ever any confusion. The process was a lot smoother and quicker the second time around because Tommy and I, the mall management, and the police had all just ran through the procedures two weeks prior,” manager Brooke Rowland said.