Shopping in the mall, you’d never think it would feel like a big risk. But on a cold day in January, I had taken my eight-year-old son to do a little shopping with a friend. We had just entered a store and had started looking around. I heard the first pop sound, and I remember thinking, “Was that a balloon or something else?” And then more popping followed.
My brain immediately realized they were gunshots. I have heard them many times before at the gun range, but the sound in a huge, open mall echoed so strangely. People started running to the back of the store, and I remembered my son was at the front, sitting playing on a Gameboy. I ran alongside the store employee to the front to grab my son as they locked the gate. I looked out into the mall and there were 50 to 60 people running, crouching and diving under things. It was the weekend and a very large, busy mall.
We all crouched at the back of the store and waited until the SWAT team got there and cleared the mall. It took hours, and during that time we learned that a young man was shot. Later it was reported that it was a 16-year-old kid, and he unfortunately lost his life.
This was not the first mall shooting in my state. It was actually the second one, and after this one, just a few years later, there was a third one. The shooter in our case should not have had the handgun. He was too young to be licensed to own one. We should be able shop, go to school, worship and enjoy our lives and feel safe while doing it.