Tuesday, May 12, 2009
My town had a bit of a scare today.
22 and I were a block from the mall where she works and all of a sudden flashing lights and law enforcement cars began swooping in from all directions, headed toward the mall.
22 dialed the store she works at and got a busy signal. And the cars keep coming. Unmarked SUVs, DOT, sheriff, local police, car after car, headed to the mall. It didn't seem like a good sign.
I immediately call Rob and both sets of grandparents to let them know that she and her sister, 17, is not at the mall so they don't need to worry about them. 22 finally gets hold of her boss who was headed to work but called by the manager on duty and told that the mall was shut down because of a gunman.
No shots had been fired, but the authorities ordered each store closed with customers and workers locked in. Law enforcement officials searched the mall on high alert, looking for the man who had been seen by several people and reported to be carrying a firearm.
It turns out that the man carried a large black umbrella and was in a restaurant enjoying lunch and had been unaware of the panic he caused.
This could be one of those laugh with relief moments and even fodder for late night television jokes (on a slow night). "Those folks in Iowa..." jokes.
BUT. A year and a half ago several people were gunned down just 15 miles away, in a mall, during a normal afternoon. That incident shattered many lives and touched thousands of others. I'm personally very grateful that someone, no matter how sure or unsure they were, made a call to the authorities with their suspicions and that the authorities took the suspicion very seriously.
Thank you Council Bluffs/Pott Co. law enforcement. I am glad we didn't need to see how skilled you are in keeping us safe, but feel safer, none the less.