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Emergency Responders Promise Constant Vigilance After Mall In Columbia Shooting

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) -- Safety concerns continue to be a high priority at the Mall in Columbia.

As Pat Warren reports, a training session took place that brought to mind the significance of effective emergency response.

Safety first in Columbia.

"The mall is a tremendously safe place to be, tremendously safe, and we work on a daily basis with mall management to ensure that happens," said Chief William McMahon, Howard County Police.

But on Jan. 25, police say Darion Aguilar used a shotgun to kill Tyler Johnson and Brianna Benlolo.

"When it happened, I thought a lot about it, having two young kids myself and what would I do and where would I go and kind of the vulnerability," Sherrie Hoyt said.

At a March 12 news conference, Police Chief William McMahon reassured the public that police have been and remain prepared to handle any emergency.

"When we have incidents there that we think or they think may be causing issues, we involve each other very, very quickly," McMahon said.

There was a demonstration of that vigilance Saturday, as Howard County Fire and Rescue did a walk-through at the mall.

"Walking through the mall to identify where sprinkler connections are, the fire pump, fire alarm systems and egress in and out of the building," said Battalion Chief Robert Utz, Howard County Fire and Rescue.

The mall shooting remains an open investigation and questions have since been raised about additional security measures, including metal detectors.

"Is society ready to have magnatomitors at the Columbia mall? Are they ready for lines like we have at airports to go shopping? I don't think we need to be at that point," said McMahon.

And many would agree.

"Tragedy could strike anybody, any day and anywhere," Rich Whipkey said.

Meanwhile, there's the assurance of constant vigilance.

Saturday's training was focused on fire and medical emergency response.

Mall security is supplemented by off-duty Howard County police officers.

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