Officials Say Destiny USA Safety Plan Worked After Shooting. Did It Really?
On Friday afternoon, there was a shooting at Destiny USA in Syracuse that resulted in the evacuation of the public, and the closing of the mall. It has since reopened.
Mall and Syracuse Police officials say their shelter in place emergency plan worked and the public was evacuated safely, just as planned. However, based on people I know who were there when the incident occurred, I'm not sure it worked all that well for everyone.
Let's start by acknowledging that I am no crisis security expert, in fact I have no expertise in the field. However, as simply a member of the public who had a friend and a wife in the mall when all of this happened, what they described didn't seem like a well oiled process.
What we know is there was an argument between two groups near the Cinnabon Bakery and Restaurant at Destiny. At some point a shot was fired at a trash can and people frantically scattered. No-one was shot and the shooter fled from the scene. Security reportedly responded immediately, police were there within minutes and their shelter in place emergency plan was initiated. Syracuse Police sent out a shelter in place alert through Twitter. All of that seemed to be very organized and well planned.
The problem with the security plan, or at least the problem for my wife and friend, was the fact that if a person wasn't in a store when the security gates all came down, the people in bathrooms and in the hallways were stuck. In the case of my wife, they never received an alert and had no idea why all of the stores were closing.
I'm surprised there was no alarm and no announcement throughout this enormous complex. It seems like there was an alert that was delivered to each individual store, but nothing publicly.
How were all of the people outside the stores supposed to know what was going on? My wife had no clue what was happening and whet they were supposed to do. After a time, alters started coming via her cell phone through media, but there was no-one to explain to them what to do. At some point well into the incident, the two spoke to someone behind a security gate at a store who said they had to exit the building, which they did. But after realizing they were so far from their car parked in the garage, they simply reentered the building and traveled through the mall to the garage where their car was parked. There was no one to stop them and no one to guide them.
Luckily nobody was injured during this incident. But I think the question has to be asked, why isn't there an alarm or speaker system to inform and guide people. It seems like that would be a logical addition to the other part of their emergency security plan.