In the wake of two shootings at Penn Square Mall, a spokesperson for the ownership group did not answer questions about whether company or mall officials would consider upgrading security measures.
"We are committed to providing a safe and secure shopping environment for our shoppers, retailers and employees. We have a highly skilled and experienced security team that utilizes a number of proactive security measures, both seen and unseen,” spokesperson for Penn Square Mall Chelsea Katz said in an emailed statement. “We also maintain a close working relationship with local law enforcement authorities to ensure that the appropriate security measures are being taken to help provide and maintain a safe environment at our property.”
That statement was the same sent after the second shooting in late January. Katz also said the mall did not discuss security measures.
The recent shootings have raised questions about protecting so-called soft targets. Soft-targets are places with minimal security like schools, event arenas and shopping malls. Concern about how to keep those spaces safe has been a debate in the retail industry. According to industry publications, malls and shopping groups and sometimes customers have resisted increased security for the sake of convenience and profit.
However, a survey from the international Council of Shopping Centers from the fall of 2019 showed customers noticed and wanted more visible security at malls, and despite pushback from shopping centers, 64 percent of customers said they'd be willing to go through security like bag searches or metal detectors to feel safer while shopping.
Penn Square Mall does not allow guns inside the building. There are gun-free zone signs posted on doors along with mall behavior policies just inside most main entrances. Under Oklahoma’s open carry law, firearm owners must obey those signs, meaning the shooters in both recent incidents were carrying their weapons illegally.
The first shooter, Elizah Sanders, 24, is claiming the shooting was in self-defense, although it’s unclear whether that defense will shield him from any firearms possession charges. Sanders was caught on camera during the altercations turned shooting in late Dec. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
The second accused shooter, Darrell Fletcher, 22, was identified by Oklahoma City Police on Tuesday. Any tips regarding his whereabouts have been asked to be directed to OCPD or Crime Stoppers at 405-235-7300.