Police officials plan to update the media Monday, regarding the investigation into the Aug. 4 shooting in a Nike store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
Two individuals were being sought. No injuries had been reported as of Sunday.
During an Aug. 4 media briefing, Bloomington Police Department Chief Booker Hodges called on the suspects to “please turn yourself in. But should you choose not to, our officers, our partners, our detectives will not stop until we lock you up.”
Video footage indicated an altercation between two groups at the cash register in the Nike store, which was said to have been “full with people,” according to police. One of the groups then left, but one returned and fired shots into the store, Hodges said.
Bloomington police officers were on the scene within 30 seconds of the incident, he said. After police responded around 4:15 p.m., the mall was put into lockdown. Police later sought the suspects at a local Best Western hotel, to no avail.
Taking questions from the media, Hodges said, “If someone decided that they don’t value human life and they choose to pull out a weapon, I don’t know what we can do. We train for this, we do this…but if an individual decides that they have no regard for human life. I don’t know any defense for that.”
The shooting is believed to be an isolated incident. Bloomington Police Department officials did not respond to requests for further comment.
Following the incident, the lockdown was lifted around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and employees and shoppers were allowed to exit the sprawling property. After the lockdown was lifted, shoppers on the second level were asked to wait for an escort by Mall of America personnel. All other shoppers were advised to leave. The shopping center, which has more than 520 stores, remained closed that night, however, it reopened Aug. 5.
Friday afternoon Nike issued a statement, “We are aware of the incident that occurred inside Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. All Nike store employees are safe and accounted for.”
With 5.6 million square feet and 11,000 year-round employees, the Mall of America is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America. Located in Bloomington, adjacent to the MSP International Airport, the mall attracts 40 million visitors annually — 40 percent of which are tourists. Some are reeled in by such spectacles as a 1.3 million gallon aquarium or the indoor roller coaster.
Mall executives did not respond immediately to requests for comment. The mall’s vice president Dan Jasper said during Thursday’s press event that shoppers can expect to see increased security staff and law enforcement partners. He noted the mall’s “incredible security record” in its 30-year history.
Asked about video footage of people entering the mall following the shooting, he said security was unable to lock incoming doors and that intercom messages and digital screen alerts are the mall’s messaging tools in these situations.
Guns are banned on the mall’s property and visitors should not expect to see metal detectors installed anytime soon, Jasper said.
“This is an open building in an open society,” Jasper said.
On Mall of America’s Twitter page late Thursday night, a post stated the mall immediately went into lockdown that afternoon after reports of shots fired. Based on information from the Bloomington Police Department, “this was an isolated dispute between the suspects and there is no longer a threat.” Mall of America later tweeted thanks to “all of our guests and tenants who responded quickly and followed security guidance during this afternoon’s lockdown.”
Well before this most recent incident, the risks and threats of mall or store violence and shooting incidents have become a more pressing concern among retailers. The National Retail Federation reported in its 2021 Retail Security Survey that 82 percent of respondents considered those factors to be more of a priority compared to five years prior.
Thursday’s incident happened less than three weeks after a 20-year-old gunman, Jonathan Sapirman, killed three people and injured two others in the food court of the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Ind., before being shot dead by a legally armed 22-year-old civilian, Elisjsha Dicken, who was on the scene. His action was described by the city’s police chief James Ison as “nothing short of heroic.” The unfolding of that incident sparked further debate between pro-gun and anti-gun activists.
Earlier last month, a Danish man opened fire in a Copenhagen shopping mall, killing three people and injuring four more.
Gunfire has also erupted on the premises of other U.S. shopping centers this year. Last month, a 60-year-old woman was fatally shot in the Carousel Mall’s parking lot in San Bernardino, Calif. There was also an incident at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree, Mass., where Dijoun Beasley was fatally shot in the head while shopping. In late April, 19-year-old Julius Hammond-Desir was indicted on first-degree murder and weapons charges related to the Braintree shooting. He pled not guilty.
The issue of mass shootings has increasingly become a concern among retailers in the U.S., the country where mass shootings in general are considerably higher than in other parts of the world. “The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic” was the focus of a session presented by Metro State University criminal justice professor James Densley and Hamline University criminology professor Jillian Peterson. Their presentation was a session in the National Retail Federation’s Protect initiative in late June. The Violence Project aims to stop mass shootings from taking place.
Peterson, a forensic psychologist, highlighted how before killing nine people in a historically Black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, Dylann Roof had been repeatedly banned from the mall, where he liked to hang out, according to an online synopsis of the NRF event.