A new security measure at the Mall of America, instituted days after a fatal shooting there, is getting mixed reviews from customers.
The Bloomington shopping destination has established bag checkpoints at its building entrances and the entrances to some stores. That follows the Dec. 23 shooting inside the Nordstrom department store that killed 19-year-old Johntae Hudson and injured a bystander.
On New Year's Eve, shoppers filed through bag check stations at mall entrances, waiting for officials wearing lime-green shirts to sift through their belongings. Some waited to check shoppers outside of popular retail stores like Forever 21 and Nordstrom.
Other security officials walked through the mall and monitored shoppers while equipped with bulletproof vests and long guns.
For regulars like Lee and Judy Houck, the new security measures are no bother.
"I think the mall's a good place, and I've always felt safe here," Lee Houck said. "I think [the new security] is good ... It makes sense to have it here."
Logen Oliver, another visitor at the mall Saturday, said the checks did not seem very intensive.
"It's a basic check, so it does minimal checking for basic firearms. I mean, if you're actually concealing something [you're] probably going to get away with it," Oliver said. But, he added, "I think it's definitely a deterrence. Don't know if you can really do much more without wasting a lot of people's times."
Shawn Jackson, also shopping at the mall on New Year's Eve day, said he was shocked by the death at Nordstrom. He believes metal detectors could have stopped the shooting.
"There's too many people to just sit here and stop and frisk everybody, so metal detectors would've stopped him from coming in with that," Jackson said.
Police have since arrested and charged four teens for the shooting. One suspect is still at large.
Charges say the teens blocked the path of Hudson, who was reportedly shopping for clothes for a friend's birthday party, before chasing him through Nordstrom. One of the teens tackled Hudson before two of them "took a shooting stance" over him. Cameras captured a bright muzzle flash reflected from the floor. Hudson had eight gunshot wounds.
Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges said a gun found at the scene may be associated with Hudson. "It appears he had a gun next to him, and it fired twice," Hodges said. Officials do not know if Hudson fired first.
Kelly Eubanks Sr. came from Wisconsin to visit the mall on Saturday. Eubanks heard about the shooting and said the mall's new measures are more necessary now.
"During the holiday times it's warranted [considering] everything else that's been going on," Eubanks said. "To make the patrons feel safe during the shopping season, during a new year coming in, I think it was warranted. But I think it will die down."