The Mall of America, the nation’s largest mall in suburban Minneapolis, is testing metal detectors for guests after multiple recent gun-related incidents.
Metal detectors have been installed at the mall’s north door entrances, though the location could change during the testing period.
“With Mall of America being such a unique property, it is important to thoroughly evaluate this technology onsite to ensure its accuracy, effectiveness and efficiency,” mall spokeswoman Laura Utecht in a statement on Tuesday.
The Mall of America already bans guns, but the pilot program is the first time the massive shopping center has added metal detectors. The additional security measure comes following two gun incidents in August, including one that involved a man firing shots during a fight. No injuries were reported.
The other incident included an armed robbery on August 26 when Cartier T. Alexander, 29, of Woodbury, allegedly robbed two stores shortly after a similar robbery at a nearby pawnshop.
Alexander was charged with first-degree aggravated robbery that involved a Lids store and a kiosk location before being apprehended. He was arrested with a loaded rifle, according to reports.
In addition to the August incidents, a shooting inside the mall on New Year’s Eve wounded two people. An 18-year-old male was charged with two counts of second-degree assault for firing one shot that struck two men. Both men were injured but survived.
The Mall of America already includes a thorough security program staffed with trained personnel. Existing efforts include bike patrol, K9 units, and special operations plainclothes officers.
In addition, youth under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older from 3 p.m. to close each day. The policy is also enforced all day on certain occasions, such as Black Friday.
Second Amendment advocates have previously contended that the mall lacks the authority to ban legal gun owners from bringing firearms into common areas.
“This is completely ridiculous. The complete opposite of what they should be doing,” Minnesota state Rep. Tony Cornish (R) said following a threat to the Mall of America in 2015. “If we’re threatened with an attack, the last thing you want to do is disarm citizens.”
The incidents at Mall of America are in addition to a growing number of gun incidents at other mall locations across the nation. In July, a gunman killed three people and injured two others in the food court of an Indianapolis-area mall before being shot by a bystander.
Elisjsha Dicken, the 22-year-old who stopped the shooter, was hailed as a hero. “I will say his actions were nothing short of heroic,” Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison said of Dicken.