In the last fifty days, Chattanooga Police have responded to three disturbances at Hamilton Place Mall. The most recent incident occurred Saturday when a man was trying to use a stolen credit card.
Officers say they tried to get 22-year-old Erwin Rogers to stop, but he tried to run away by going up an escalator and pushing people out of the way. When they caught up with him, they discovered a loaded handgun underneath his clothes.
In response to the recent events at the mall, mall officials have increased security by adding off-duty police officers.
As soon as shoppers enter the Hamilton Place Mall, signs alert them, guns are not permitted on the mall property. “We want to provide a safe environment for all of our shoppers at Hamilton Place,” said Marketing Director Kim Lyons.
Hamilton Place officials are stepping up security with the help of the Chattanooga Police Department. They said they are taking the recent incidents at the mall very seriously. “Some of these measures will be seen by our customers; others won't be seen by our customers.”
On Black Friday two people were shot in the parking lot. A few weeks later three people were injured after police said two validated gang members set off fireworks at the Victoria Secret Pink Store. Then this weekend a man who was suspected of using a stolen credit card, was found with a handgun after police caught him after a chase inside the mall. “We want the public to understand that we understand their concerns and we are not taking this lightly.”
For some, it is not discouraging them from visiting the mall. Their solution is changing the time of day they shop. “I usually go in the early morning, 10 or 11. I would think most of those things occur in the evenings,” said Joan Long.
But others are taking their business elsewhere. “I do most of my stuff online of through my daughter online,” said Debbie Patrick.
Officials hope the extra security will eliminate the disruptions. But they plan to be ready, just in case. “Obviously we never want incidents to occur at Hamilton Place but we have a good relationship with CPD, it is a very good working relationship. When they happen, the police respond immediately,” said Lyons.
Hamilton Place will be adding earlier hours to their Youth Escort Program. Starting February 3rd, anyone under the age of 18 must be escorted by their legal guardian on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 4pm, which is two hours earlier than before.