Thousands of traumatized holiday shoppers filed out of the Portland, Oregon mall after the deadly shooting. Shoppers were forced to leave with their hands in the air. Some can be seen leading children in shoppers' frightening cell phone videos.
"It made me think of myself, and my own family, and how that could just happen to anybody," says Kaitlin Emmert. "That's crazy that he apparently had no connection with anybody he shot. So, it was just really scary honestly."
The incident also has the retail industry looking at it's own security measures--including right here in the Tri-State. Hahn Realty, the owner and property manager of Evansville's Washington Square Mall, says the incident is a reminder at just how important security is in shopping centers.
"It's just terrible that things like that happen and we have to be really, really diligent in our work here at the Washington Square Mall and managing any of our shopping centers that we do a good job to make sure people feel comfortable and safe," says Joe Kiefer, Principal Broker at Hahn Realty.
Washington square mall says its tight security starts with men and women in uniform. Prospective security officers must be an active member of law enforcement to qualify for the job.
"It helps to know that they're not just protecting the mall's stuff but they're there trained to help people, which is great since a lot of shoppers obviously don't think about that. So it's good to know that some people are [thinking about that] and they're paying attention," says Emmert.
Others say there's no way to truly build safeguards against seemingly random acts of terror. "There's guards everywhere but they can't be everywhere," says Leta Scott. "I'm a mother ... and I only have two kids and still you can't be there every time something happens."
For some, prevention isn't a feasible option. Instead, some shopper say they're simply staying more alert -- and praying they never have to react.
Eastland mall released the following statement on the incident:
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by last night's tragedy in Oregon. Our prayers and condolences remain with the families of the victims. The safety of our shoppers is our top priority - we have a thorough security program in place at our center and work closely with law enforcement to address specific issues."
Sean Ferguson, Eastland Mall Marketing Manager