BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Friday evening on New Year's Eve, guests at Mall of America shared a terrifying experience that thankfully resolved safely: after a shooting that injured two, the mall went into temporary lockdown.
Dawn Trautman was visiting the mall from NYC on a trip to see family back home in Minnesota.
"We saw people running and then they were screaming and you just sort of think, I don’t know what’s happening, but it doesn’t seem like we should stay here!" Trautman said. "So we went down two escalators and then when we got the ground floor, they were making the announcement – go into any store."
She then went into the clothing store Zara, where she says retail workers acted quickly.
"I will tell you, Zara did really well," she said. "They got everyone away from the doors, and put people in the stock room and dressing rooms – they were on it – like a flight attendant or something."
The quick thinking on the part of store workers was part of a large system of safety protocols and emergency preparedness training, according to security expert Michael Rozin.
Rozin is president of Rozin Security Consulting and has more than 20 years of experience in the world of international security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism. For six years, he worked with Mall of America.
While not speaking officially on behalf of the Mall, Rozin says he has knowledge that the business takes security "very, very seriously."
"They have invested a significant amount of effort to institute this response to active threat situations like what we have seen yesterday," Rozin said, referencing the training of the tenants and store employees.
"All the tenants and employees are regularly trained in those methods, and I think they just responded as they were trained, which was really good," he said.
Saturday, a representative for the Mall of America did not return a request for comment on security measures.
On Facebook, the Mall thanked guests and tenants "who responded quickly and followed security guidance" during the lockdown.
In the comments, several guests praised specific stores for their response. Yet others called for the mall to have metal detectors.
Rozin says that's a measure that is possible, but could be cost-prohibitive.
"Weapon screening for a facility of this nature…it requires a lot. It requires a multi, multi-million dollar operation...it’s feasible, but It’s going to significantly also [affect] the flow and the freedom of access to the facility," he said.
Instead, Rozin says it's important to consider just how often these types of events occur.
"Statistically speaking, incidents like this are very rare," Rozin said. "So I think that people should feel safe and actually if they look at the response of Mall of America they should feel reassured that they take security very seriously."