The Streets at Southpoint Mall has experienced four violent incidents over the past few months. In an attempt to reduce violence, the mall has implemented new policies including chaperone requirements, a security guard dog and increased security presence.
On Oct. 24, 2021, shoppers scrambled and hid from what they thought were gunshots. Jamie Foster, a worker at Maggiano’s, told CBS 17 that “there was a lot of running, a lot of crying.”
“You hear people taking cover and just everybody jumping in their car and leaving, there was so much going on,” Foster told CBS 17.
Durham police later determined that there had actually been no gunfire and it was likely the sound of a broomstick hitting a table after a large fight had broken out at the mall’s food court, although witnesses say a gun was displayed but not fired. Nonetheless, two people were injured from the fight and another two were injured trying to leave the mall during the chaos.
On Nov. 26, 2021, three people were shot at the mall in a shooting that was initially thought to have occurred between two groups that knew each other. This included a 10-year-old who was hit from a gunshot ricochet, and two others. There were also some minor injuries as people evacuated.
A police investigation later found that the shooting was a result of two men trying to rob a man selling jewelry in which gunfire was exchanged.
Another fight broke out at the food court on Dec. 8, 2021. One witness said that a gun was brandished, while officials say that a man was robbed of his gun and wallet.
Police responded to another shooting that happened in the parking lot of the mall on Dec. 19, 2021. Police were already at the mall providing increased security when the incident happened. No gunman or victim was located by police.
According to WNCT 9, from the start of 2020 to November 2021, over 1,330 calls were made for Durham police assistance to the Southpoint Mall. Most calls were for thefts, shoplifting and requests for added patrols. Under one percent of calls were for assaults.
What has Southpoint done to prevent future incidents?
A new Parental Guidance Required program was announced in February 2021. The program requires all individuals under the age of 18 to have a chaperone over the age of 21 with them at all times in the mall.
Public safety officers were placed outside to check the identifications of visitors who appeared under 18, and visitors over 18 were given a wristband. This program was created due to “disruptions by unsupervised children at the shopping center on weekends,” according to ABC 11.
On Dec. 23, 2021, a German shepherd named Cigan was hired to patrol Southpoint’s common areas and entrances to detect firearms. Cigan was trained and supplied by the Florida-based security company Southern Coast K9, undergoing five to six months of training at the company’s facility outside Daytona Beach. His handler, a Southpoint security guard, was also trained for four weeks at the facility to learn how to handle the dog.
A spokesperson for the Southpoint mall told CBS 17 that Southpoint has increased security presence but couldn’t go into more detail. Durham police officers have also increased their presence at the mall following the latest shooting.
According to Minister Paul Scott, an activist and newspaper columnist, gun violence isn’t unique to Southpoint. As of Sep. 25, 2021, deadly shootings are up 37% in Durham from 2020.
“The bottom line is the shootings are happening in other areas, less affluent areas, of Durham every night,” Scott told CBS 17. “We shouldn’t have to wait until it happens at a more ritzy area like the Southpoint area to take action.”
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.