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Bridgewater Mall, Shoppers Unfazed After Shooting at Garden State Plaza

Mall security maintained with daily planning, according to Bridgewater Commons' spokeswoman.

After 20-year-old Richard Shoop, of Teaneck, killed himself in the Garden State Plaza Monday, concerns about how safe crowded areas are rose again in many people's minds.

For those who manage the security at shopping centers and malls like Bridgewater Commons, that means taking steps to not only be prepared for any similar kinds of acts, but also giving shoppers signs that it's still a safe place. 

"Like any venue that welcomes a large number of people, our number one priority every day is for the safety and security of everyone who enters our center," Amy Knorr, Bridgewater Commons' marketing manager, said. "As part of our daily operations, we have a customized public safety program in place that entails many different measures."

Knorr said the presence of security personnel and, occasionally, police, is one sign of the mall's efforts to assuage any fears, but said other less visible—and undisclosed—steps are also taken.

"We don’t discuss our public safety measures because by doing so would compromise our efforts," she added.

On Monday, Shoop had entered the shopping center dressed in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet, and carrying a .22-cal. rifle modified to look like an AK-47, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. Thousands of terrified shoppers were evacuated after Shoop fired six shots in a concourse before taking his own life, Molinelli said.

By Thursday, any hesitance shoppers may have had seemed to have fully dissipated—stores were busy and shoppers packed the food court at lunchtime. Other malls reported similar signs the Garden State Plaza incident wasn't deterring shoppers, too.   

“I think it’s safe here. It doesn’t mean that what happened there, can’t happen here,” said Karen Lowell, as she walked back to her car Wednesday afternoon after shopping at Willowbrook Mall, in Wayne. “What happened was scary, but it could happen anywhere.”

Knorr said "safety and security are always our number one priority."

"Every day," she said. "Not just when events occur."

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