Columbus Mayor Tomlinson interview following mall shooting - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

WEB EXTRA: Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson interview following Peachtree Mall shooting

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson gave an interview to News Leader 9's Irisha Jones following the fifth murder of 2016 in Columbus - this one, the shooting death of Anthony Meredith at Peachtree Mall on Saturday. Here is the full transcript of that interview. 

You can also listen to it here

Mayor Tomlinson: 

This is the fifth murder for the year, (and) this does not appear to be a random act of violence. That's all we can say at this time because the investigation is ongoing, but it is moving quite rapidly. We hope to have additional information tomorrow (Monday). 

One individual was shot and there was not an exchange of gunfire. It was one person with a gun shooting another person. There were no other gunshot injuries, but it does look like one person was stepped on. If I didn't say already, it (the shooting) was just outside the mall at the entrance to the food court.

As it relates to the mall, I will be getting with mall management to see what their security is. They have private security, it is private property. I saw some misinformation on Facebook last night that police officers used to patrol the mall or guard the mall. If police officers used to do that, they were being hired by the mall as off-duty police officers, which is still certainly an option.

The mall management can, in addition to their private security, could always hire off-duty police officers. As a public standpoint, on-duty police officers don't guard or patrol private property. But I'm going to get with mall management to see what kind of staffing they have related to their security - whether they feel it is sufficient given the recent incidents - and how we may be able to partner with them to improve upon it. And it may result in them hiring off-duty police officers, I don't know, but we will be in touch with them.

The purpose of saying "no weapons" is when someone comes in and a security guard or shopkeeper sees a weapon on somebody, that person can be forced to leave. If you don't have the sign, they can just come in and walk around with guns. A lot of these stores are posting "no guns allowed" signs. What we are saying is if we see you with a gun and think you have a gun, we can approach you and force you to leave. That's the purpose of the sign. Even if you are a law-abiding, gun-toting person, you can be forced to leave if they have that sign there.

There's a slight misunderstanding - that criminals or people are saying since there is a sign I'm not bringing my gun in. But it helps under Georgia law, it's lawful for them to walk in and have a gun and they cannot be asked to leave or can not be approached if they have a gun by police officers or anyone else unless you have a sign up. 

In reference to people on our Facebook page saying that Peachtree Mall has turned into Columbus Square Mall - the old mall that sat where the library is on Macon Road.

Comparisons are something that people always want to do. But I can say in this incident right now, clearly there have been two shootings in very close proximity of that property. So, I think what this tells you is that they are going to have to double on what security they do have until such time there is a calm restored to that area.

I'm not at the point of saying this particular location is lost or dangerous, but they have had some very serious incidents that the management and property owners need to take control of - and certainly beef up their security.

The public is going to be alarmed because you don't expect violence at a public place such as this, where people go for basic needs where we take our families and that type of thing. This particular place is not one that we expect or have reason to expect that would be a risky place to be. And that's why people are clearly alarmed and they are justified in this instance.

I think the issue is this a random act, which it was not. We believe it was a purposeful encounter and no else would have been harmed, it was directed at the individual victim. That is our indication at this point. It was not someone going in to cause strangers harm - it appears to be a targeted act.

We don't know how much security they have, we don't regulate private property in that way. We can reach out and I will be reaching out now under these circumstances, to talk with management and see what it is they are doing, what steps they are taking, and me and the chief (Columbus Chief of Police Ricky Boren) will be making recommendations on what they can do to make their facility safer.  

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