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Recent security training didn't stop shooter in Maryland mall

COLUMBIA, MD - JANUARY 27: A security guard walks past the boarded up Zumiez store where two days earlier three people were shot and killed at the Mall in Columbia January 27, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland.
COLUMBIA, MD - JANUARY 27: A security guard walks past the boarded up Zumiez store where two days earlier three people were shot and killed at the Mall in Columbia January 27, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Maryland mall where a shooting last Saturday left three dead and five injured reopened yesterday. Returning shoppers were greeted by an increased presence of police and mall security.

Signs of the tragedy that took place just a few days before can be seen at Zumiez, the store where the shooting occurred, remained closed, and a temporary wall had been built across its entrance. On the wall was a message saying the store would be closed until further notice in “loving memory” of Brianna Benlolo, 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25, the two employees who were killed, reported the New York Times.

Retailers are taking steps to make shopping at malls and stand-alone stores more secure.

Managers from the mall in Columbia attended a training seminar for retail officials provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Department of Homeland Security, says Rich Miller, the senior security adviser to the National Retail Federation. The association updated its 2011 guidelines for dealing with shooters last year.

Key points from the guidelines on dealing with active shooters that shoppers should know.

1. Active shooters don't negotiate or converse. Run, hide, and fight as a last resort in an active shooter situation.

2. Shoppers are urged to evacuate if it is safe to do so. Store workers are instructed to tell those who can safely flee to keep their hands up.

3. Seek safety in the nearest store. Store employees are supposed to take customers into a back room, close the door or store gates and wait for police to tell them when it's safe to leave.

It is claimed that lives are saved when training and guidelines such as these are put into practice, but is there a way to keep these types of shootings from occurring in the first place?

The use of metal detectors might have prevented Darion Aguilar from walking into the mall with his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, but with more people making purchases from the safety of their homes using the internet, retailers don't want to put up barriers to shoppers entering their malls and stores.

What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of an active shooter?

1. Be aware of what is going on around you.

2. Have an escape plan. It doesn't matter if you are in a shopping mall, food court, theater, restaurant, or at home: you need to plan for the worst possible situation.

3. When entering a shopping mall, theater, restaurant, or any public place you need to know is how will you get out in an emergency. You should locate at least two exits.

4. In the case of an active shooter you should leave your belongings and escape rather than hide or play dead.

5. Head to the closest exit as quickly as possible. To avoid making yourself an easy target you may need to crawl to the exit instead of standing up and running.

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