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Garden State Plaza Shooting Could Prompt Tighter Security At U.S. Malls

Expert: Israel Is The Model For Secure Shopping Centers

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Monday night’s shooting incident at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J., is the latest tragedy at a public place, raising questions about security at shopping centers.

Heightened security was on display over the weekend at the New York City Marathon, nearly seven months after bombers attacked the Boston marathon. Security has also become tighter in recent years at airports and sports arenas, for example.

“Unfortunately, security at malls is going to increase drastically,” David Boehm, chief operating officer of Security USA, told CBS 2’s Tamara Leitner. “I’m sure every owner of a mall is sitting down right now discussing with their security team what just happened.”

Photos: Shots Fired At Garden State Plaza

Boehm said some of the most secure malls in the world are in Israel.

“They are the experts in dealing with terrorist attacks, bombings, suicide bombings,” he said. “And they have used what they have learned after all these years, and they have come up with a great form of security — layers of security. And they’ve implemented this type of security at many locations, including large malls.”

The premise of the Israeli strategy is to keep a terrorist or shooter out of the mall by having layers of defense – from security checking cars and bags, to officers positioned at mall entrances and exits. Many of the malls in Israel are built with only a few entrances and exits, whereas malls in the United States have dozens of doors, leaving them more vulnerable to attacks.

“I believe we are heading in that direction,” Boehm predicted. “I don’t know if we will get to the same level as the Israelis, but we definitely will have to step up the security at all malls.”

While the extreme security measures are accepted by the people in Israel, Americans seemed divided about whether they could get used to such procedures at their malls.

“I think that’s a bad idea,” said Nicola Bernitt, of Smithtown, Long Island. “I don’t think you need to go that far.”

“Do it,” said Ray Beckles, of Stony Brook, Long Island. “Do it just like they do it at the airports.”

Experts say U.S. mall owners are leery of extreme security measures because they could scare away customers and increase the time it takes to get inside malls. Also, the cost of security could drive up rents, which might be passed down to customers.

On Monday night, Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J., entered the Garden State Plaza mall with a rifle and fired several shots at random, prompting a lockdown and massive police response. He was found dead hours later in the mall after shooting himself, police said. No one else was injured.

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