SHORT PUMP, Va. – Fake blood, guns and lots of police officers. Short Pump Town Center looked more like a crime scene than a shopping center Sunday morning.
Henrico Police and the Henrico Fire Department staged an emergency exercise at the mall to train on how they would react should a gunman open fire.
“How would you get those people out of mall? How would safely rescue people that were still here?” Henrico Police spokeswoman Lt. Linda Toney posed as questions police hoped to answer during the drill.
More than 200 volunteers played dead, wounded and scared shoppers. Others played the bad guy being pursued by police.
“You know honestly we feel like we live in a bubble, including Short Pump,” Henrico mother Mimi Moore said when she learned about the drill. “We honestly don’t think about that kind of stuff.” Moore said if someone opened fire in the mall she would probably “run like a crazy woman.”
“In today’s world you have to be prepared,” Short Pump Town Center General Manager Kem Blue said. “Whether it happens at a school or a church or a shopping center, it could happen anywhere.”
Police said their coordination with mall security and mall workers was key to keeping shoppers safe. But shoppers need to play a role in keeping themselves safe too.
“We teach people to run, hide, and fight,” Lt. Toney said. “You really have to think about that. Sometimes you may be running towards something, and other times you should stay where you are and fight.”
Police and mall managers scheduled a meeting Monday to review the drill, share any lessons they learned and make changes — if necessary — to mall security protocols.