The killing of a storeowner last week at Security Square Mall near Baltimore is one of several recent events that have brought attention to mall violence, reports the Baltimore Sun. It was followed hours later by a shooting inside White Marsh Mall. Last year, a private school educator was shot dead during a botched robbery in a mall parking garage; in May, a woman wielding four butcher knives chased several women at another mall and stabbed two of them.
Even if mall violence is rare overall, a single shooting at a place where huge numbers shop, exercise, get their hair cut, or just linger with friends can rattle a person’s sense of well-being. Said David Levenberg of General Growth Properties, which owns Towson Town Center, White Marsh Mall and other malls in the region: “People believe that malls are a safe place. They get comfortable. They let their guard down. And when things happen like this, it’s a shock.” Arthur A. Turner Jr., chairman of the Prince George’s County, Md., Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee, pointed to the closing of Landover Mall a few years ago. “People started saying, ‘You’ll get killed [if] you go to Landover Mall.’ But in reality, Landover Mall didn’t have any more of a crime problem than more favored locations,” he said. Industry experts noted that in Israel shoppers undergo searches of their cars and walk through metal detectors. “The Israelis practice a lot of behavior that in this country we’re not quite prepared to take over,” said security expert Jonathan Lusher of IPC International, near Chicago, which provides security officers for about 400 shopping centers nationwide.