Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields says that “more needs to be done” to improve security at Buckhead’s Lenox Square mall in the wake of a March 8 killing that was the fourth shooting there since December.
“We will not, under any circumstances, allow lawlessness to destroy one of Atlanta’s most beloved and long-standing retail institutions,” said Shields in a written statement.
A spokesperson for Simon Property Group, manager of the 3393 Peachtree Road mall, did not immediately respond to a comment request.
The mall contains a mini Atlanta Police Department precinct, and Shields says that the police presence was increased recently. “Prior to Sunday’s incident, we had met with Simon Property Group … representatives in an effort to improve security,” Shields said in the statement. “Some positive steps were taken, but more needs to be done. Simon’s involvement in developing a comprehensive approach to security is critical to our success. Department leaders will be meeting again this afternoon to determine what further resources APD can provide to assist in providing more presence at the mall.”
All four recent shootings happened in the mall’s parking areas. In the March 8 incident, a man was shot to death in what APD says may have been a dispute over a parking space.
On Dec. 21, a woman was shot and wounded in an armed robbery in a mall parking deck. In that case, police have two suspects in custody.
On Jan. 18, an Atlanta Police officer shot and wounded a man in a parking deck in what police originally said was an armed robbery but may have been an attempt to recover a stolen item.
And on Feb. 10, a Jonesboro man was wounded after meeting someone in the parking lot in an incident where two suspects appeared to take a suitcase from a car the victim had occupied. One suspect is in custody and another is sought in that case.
Following the January shooting incident, mall management said in a written statement that it has various security measures of its own.
“We are committed to providing a safe and secure shopping environment for our shoppers, tenants and employees,” the statement said in part. “We have a highly skilled and experienced security team that utilizes a number of proactive security measures, both seen and unseen. We also maintain a close working relationship with local law enforcement authorities to ensure that the appropriate security measures are being taken to help provide and maintain a safe environment at our property.”
Shields’ full statement, issued through APD spokesperson Carolos Campos, reads as follows:
“Sunday’s fatal shooting at Lenox Square continues to show a level of brazenness and disregard for the law that is deeply concerning. These violent acts are happening in broad daylight, and with increased police presence already in place at the mall. Prior to Sunday’s incident, we had met with Simon Property Group (managers of Lenox Square) representatives in an effort to improve security. Some positive steps were taken, but more needs to be done. Simon’s involvement in developing a comprehensive approach to security is critical to our success. Department leaders will be meeting again this afternoon to determine what further resources APD can provide to assist in providing more presence at the mall. We will not, under any circumstances, allow lawlessness to destroy one of Atlanta’s most beloved and long-standing retail institutions. APD has made arrests in all three previous shootings that have occurred on mall property since December, and I’m confident an arrest will be made in Sunday’s murder. These incidents have our full attention.”