Calumet City, IL (WLS) — Days after a mall security guard was shot dead, questions are mounting from businesses inside the River Oaks mall in the city of Calmet.
Various messages are exchanged at River Oaks Mall. Calumet city officials said the plan was to reopen on Friday with increased security, and they are doing so, but most stores remain closed as the investigation continues.
JBees employee Osama Lehmann said, “All the store managers and employees are confused.
Employees said they received a letter from police Friday morning saying the mall was temporarily closed, but the company that owns and operates the mall said otherwise.
“The mall is open from security and management, but the police want to stop it,” Lehman said. “They don’t want us to open stores.”
Despite the chaos, customers were walking around as usual as most stores in the mall were closed.
Some customers were still upset to hear that 57-year-old Norman Thomas was shot while guarding a jewelry store in the mall.
“My heart really goes to him,” said shopper Leon Ellis. “Like I said, he was a very, very nice guy.”
Crime like this is one of the reasons the city of Calumet has sought change.
The city did not respond to ABC7’s request for comment on Friday, but has highlighted concerns about crime around the mall in the past.
“Over the past 12 months, we’ve been constantly talking about taking over this mall for a variety of reasons, especially safety and security,” Howard said.
This week’s shooting is the latest in many incidents over the past few years. Two people were killed in a shooting outside the mall in 2019. Another shooting occurred inside the mall in May 2021, but no one was injured. Employees said the lack of security was a concern.
“This is a really big mall, and you might have a security guard or two,” says Rehman. “They have no weapons. Nothing. Robberies happen every day.”
Some customers believe the city should add more protections rather than permanently closing malls.
“Tighten up your security,” Ellis said. “Place police officers here. That’s what they get paid for.”
The store owner also said off-camera that there is still a lot of business here and that a complete closure would be problematic.ABC7 is waiting to hear from the mayor’s office about future plans for the mall. .
Police are said to be searching for multiple suspects. So far, no arrests have been made.
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