Security expert offers insight for shoppers following lockdown at SouthPark Mall

CHARLOTTE — Following the panic at SouthPark Mall on Saturday, Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz spoke with a security expert on what should be on people’s minds as we go into the holiday season.

Chauncey Bowers works with Threat Suppression Incorporated — a Charlotte company that trains agencies and businesses on how to deal with public safety and threats.

Bowers said people should always be aware of their surroundings while out shopping. That includes knowing your surroundings, and in the event that something does happen, being prepared to avoid, deny or defend.

“Do whatever you need to do to prevent that danger from reaching where you are. And then of course, if the danger is where you are located do whatever is necessary to defend or protect yourself,” Bowers said.

The panic inside the mall led to an evacuation as shoppers tried to rush out of the building and parking lot.

Bowers said if you ever find yourself in a similar scenario, the first thing you should do is get to wherever you feel safe.

Traffic congestion around these major responses can also cause an issue. While officials say they are working on techniques to combat this, it is a difficult problem to solve.

SouthPark Mall briefly went under lockdown Saturday afternoon after false reports spread about shots being fired.

Police told Channel 9′s Glenn Counts that an argument prompting a security response occurred just before 2:15 p.m.

While security was addressing the argument, false reports about shots being fired began to circulate, causing shoppers to panic, according to police.

Police said this panic caused shoppers to flee and a lockdown was set in place.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., Channel 9 crews observed several police cars, multiple EMS vehicles, and fire trucks arrive at the scene.

A few minutes later, the mall was evacuated, according to police.

After an investigation, CMPD determined that no shots had been fired. At 4 p.m., police announced that the mall had reopened.

MEDIC said one person was transported with minor injuries unrelated to gunshot wounds.

MEDIC also said that it is currently evaluating other potential patients, also with medical complaints.

Channel 9 reached out to SouthPark Mall for a statement about what occurred over the weekend and the plans it has to keep shoppers safe, but have not heard back.

(WATCH BELOW: Man cited after accidentally shooting himself at SouthPark Mall, CMPD says)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

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