CHICAGO (CBS) — The security response following Monday night’s deadly shooting at an Orland Park mall followed protocol to a T. That’s according to a national expert.
Terrence Rogers and his wife dashed for a jewelry store next to the food court at Orland Square Mall as the shop owner ripped down the security gate following the shooting, Rogers says.
“It was something out of a “Die Hard” movie,” he said. “I’m looking for Bruce Willis, but he’s nowhere in sight.”
Rogers said they were standing in the food court when they noticed a group of men fighting just feet away.
“And the next ting you know we hear the shots,” Rogers said.
State Senator Elgie Sims just so happened to also be shopping nearby with his wife and two young daughters. They also took cover in the back of a store as the victim fell to the ground nearby.
“Those young people, that’s something – they’re going to live with that for quite some time,” Sims said.
Fortunately it’s a scenario that Orland Park police have been training for.
Orland Park’s Police Chief shared a video of an active shooter drill at a nearby school. He told CBS 2 they run the same drill at Orland Square once a year. They’re trained to “eliminate or isolate the threat” while mall security makes sure shoppers take cover.
“I was very impressed with their response,” Sims said.
Security expert Russell Kolins specifically studies and consults on security for these types of “soft targets” and said that customer instincts to hide in the stores were right on.
“Stores are immediately instructed to lock down,” Kolins said. “So they lock your doors, you get everybody inside the store into a safe area usually a back room.”
Then customers were evacuated out of back entrances. But the reason the suspect in this case fled the scene may have to do with its design.
“They want to escape and they don’t want to get caught,” Kolins said.
Kolins said the most secure malls follow certain design principles including lots of public seating to act as natural surveillance and parking lots that are designed to be hard to navigate out of. Orland Park has seven exit points, but much larger malls, like the Mall of America, have just four for exactly that purpose.
Orland Square officials said they were deferring all comments to Orland Park Police. The police chief said they already have an active shooter drill on the calendar at the mall in the spring.