AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Safety is now a big question after a shooting inside Augusta Mall during a busy shopping hour.
It was a very scary afternoon for shoppers at the mall and now, very little response from mall management after Saturday’s incident that left one person shot dead and another injured.
One witness at the mall Saturday, Bernard Hendrix, told NewsChannel 6 “We heard the gunshot. People just started running.”
Hendrix described the mayhem he and several others encountered Saturday afternoon while inside a store nearby when shots were fired.
“We was in Hot Topic and then we heard a loud pop and everybody started running,” Brianna Hendrix described.
A map of the Augusta Mall shows Hot Topic right across from LensCrafters. Witnesses tell NewsChannel 6 that’s where the shooting happened.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree spoke with us too and said it was an isolated incident.
“There had been some bad blood between these individuals prior to this incident. They just happened to run into each other at the Augusta Mall,” Sheriff Roundree said. “This incident could have happened at a grocery store or another retail outlet or anywhere in the street.”
The sheriff also said investigators are still looking into who showed a weapon first. But 37-year-old Tony Burton faces multiple charges for killing Darrell Little and shooting bystander Aubrey Adams. The sheriff added since the incident was isolated, he sees no need to beef up security beyond the regular patrols already taking place, unless mall management makes the request.
Augusta Mall issued this statement after we sent several questions about safety.
“We are always evaluating our security program, and are making adjustments following the unfortunate incident from Saturday evening. However, we never publicly disclose our safety protocols because doing so could compromise our efforts.”Amy Dalton, Augusta Mall General Manager
Sheriff Roundtree said the mall and his office have a good relationship and has employed special duty deputies during holiday seasons.
But another concern is weapons in the mall. The mall’s Code of Conduct includes no firearms or illegal weapons. But we know that at least four guns, including the shooter were inside Saturday.
Bernard Hendrix shared, “It was three or four men that were licensed to carry. They pulled their guns and actually stood where they thought the guy might come from so they could protect everybody that was trying to get out.”
“Georgia is an open carry, a right to conceal weapons carry,” Sheriff Roundtree said. “The mall policy is based on the fact that if they don’t want any guns, then they will be more than happy to have those individuals to exit their property.” If told to leave, Roundtree added those individuals with a license to carry would not be arrested.
There are still many questions left unanswered in terms of safety, especially with the holiday shopping season right around the corner.
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