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Shooting in Omaha (Part IV)

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Westroads Mall re-opened this weekend. The mall's Web site is now carrying a link to www.vonmaurvictimsfund.org.

Also, the Omaha World-Herald had a good story looking at how other malls have bounced back from shooting incidents.

But though Spriggs can't forget the Trolley Square shootings on a personal level, she doesn't see any lingering impact on her store.

"We haven't had any dip in business as a result of what happened," she said.

Others in the shopping mall industry say Spriggs' experience is typical. After the initial disruption of a mall shooting - and a number of them have occurred over the past few years - customers soon return. The mall survives and may even thrive, they said.

For example, a Tacoma, Wash., mall has rebounded well from a November 2005 incident in which a 20-year-old man firing a semiautomatic rifle wounded six people, one of them critically.

Some stores at the Tacoma Mall lost business during the 2005 Christmas shopping season, but others reported near-normal sales almost immediately after the mall reopened.

Now the mall is expanding and business is good, according to news accounts.

The Baltimore Sun also has a good article looking at mall security that--unlike the majority of pieces where managers have refused to talk about details--actually includes some concrete information on what properties are doing and have done to make malls more secure.

Area malls have increased television surveillance to even the darkest corners. They have made it harder to gain access to the roof, utility rooms and other areas that can be hiding places. They've increased the number of security officers on patrol, and generally beef that up even more during the holiday shopping season.

So far, mall officials say they see no sign that shoppers are being deterred by fears stemming from the Nebraska shooting.

"We're concerned about [the Nebraska incident], but we haven't seen a drop-off in shopping," said Frank Meyer, the general manager at Security Square Mall. "I think most people understand that was an unusual occurrence."

A brief AP story also talks about how the stores within Westroads responded quickly when the shooting started.

In other news, there was a false alarm involving The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles. A young man in Australia posted a threatening message on his blog (and was arrested for doing so), but the mall was never in any danger. The man, who has never been to the U.S., Willis, who has never been to the United States, "apparently selected The Grove at random, identifying the shopping center by address instead of by name," according to an Australian policeman quoted in the story. Elsewhere, in Massachusetts an irate customer was arrested after threatening a store clerk saying, "That's why people get shot at the mall." The man had no weapon, but with the Omaha incident fresh in shopper's minds, the clerk set off the store's alarm system and police officers quickly arrived on the scene to arrest the man.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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