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Safety measures heightened at local shopping centers for Black Friday weekend

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 1:25 PM

TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Ty Greenlees
TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

After mass shootings killed dozens in Las Vegas and a small Texas church in recent months, shopping centers and malls are ensuring security protocols are robust for large crowds before the busy holiday shopping season.

Regional malls and shopping centers have seen violent crimes in recent years, but nationally retailers are more focused on combating theft and nonviolent crimes that cause loss of revenue for stores. An estimated 164 million people are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

A significant increase in store traffic can be a challenge for shopping malls and centers, and security firms are encouraging mall teams to ensure crowd control and identify suspicious behaviors during the busy holiday season. The busy shopping season comes on the heels of a string of mass shootings in populated areas. There has been more than 300 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2017, according to nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

» RELATED: Cabela’s kicks off pre-Black Friday deals: Here’s what to expect

At least 26 were killed and several others injured in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Another 58 died during a mass shooting at an October country concert in Las Vegas. Malls have also been impacted by mass shootings. Five people were killed in a mass shooting in 2016 at Cascade Mall in Washington. Another mass shooting at a Von Maur store in Nebraska left at least eight dead in 2007.

TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Global security firm GardaWorld encouraged malls to “provide situational awareness and security training to shopping mall’s personnel” before the holiday season.

“Threats your shopping mall personnel usually face are not severe. Yet, it’s important that they are trained to take appropriate actions in higher-risk scenarios to ensure everyone’s safety,” the security firm stated.

Local malls see shootings

Malls in the region have seen violent crimes within recent years. In May, a woman wounded a man during a shooting in a parking lot outside the Sears at Dayton Mall. The woman, Jordana Esses, fired 10 to 15 times and shot her boyfriend in the leg.

» HOLIDAY HIRING: 5 things we learned about local hiring this season

Other shootings have also occurred near the Dayton Mall. In late December 2014, a 16-year-old Middletown student was shot and killed outside the Dayton Mall while trying to rob a concealed-carry permit holder of his newly purchased athletic shoes. Earlier that year, a 41-year-old Los Angeles man was fatally shot outside P.F. Chang’s restaurant at 2626 Miamisburg-Centerville Road.

TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Both Dayton Mall and the Mall at Fairfield Commons are owned by Washington Prime Group, which previously told this news organization that safety is its top priority. Officials for The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek said they would not comment on specific security protocols.

» RELATED: Is Little Debbie getting rid of your favorite treat? One has to go

“We work closely with the local police departments and our own security teams to provide shoppers with a safe, pleasant shopping experience year round,” Shelley Sloan, regional marketing manager at Washington Prime Group, said in a statement.

From 2003-2008, there were 944 homicides involving workers in retail, according to a BLS study. Violent crimes occur more frequently in the parking lots of shopping centers, rather than in the actual malls. Parking lots are not a high priority for retailers when it comes to taking security precautions, Timothy L. Zehring, a risk assessment consultant, told STORES Magazine.

TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

“If a retailer has 50 cameras on the premises, 47 of them will be in the store and three will be in the parking lot,” he said.

GardaWorld encouraged mall officials to “increase alertness within the team and emphasize the importance of fast emergency response” before Black Friday. The security company said high-risk areas during Black Friday include garbage cans, which are potential storage areas for stolen items, weapons, explosives and suspicious packages.

Combating theft

While shopping centers do prepare for catastrophic events like mass shootings, retailers are concerned with the day-to-day crimes that impact revenue. About 83 percent of merchants report an increase in organized retail crime, according to a 2016 study released by the NRF. About 89 percent of kids say they know other kids who shoplift.

“Retailers continue to deal with the challenges that come with fighting organized retail crime,” said NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca. “Every day, criminals are getting more creative in the ways they manipulate the retail supply chain. Combating theft is a full-time job, and it is a constant battle industry-wide for retailers large and small to stay one step ahead of these savvy criminals.”

More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. Some malls are combating this issue by implementing curfews for young adults. The Dayton Mall has a parental escort policy on Friday and Saturday evenings for children under the age of 16. The Greene also has security officers, called guest assistance personnel, that wear shoulder radios and monitor activity in-person and via security cameras, according to the center’s website.

The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek opened in 2006 and is now boasting more than 100 shops and restaurants in the mixed retail open shopping center. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Criminals are also finding ways to manipulate store return policies. According to the NRF survey, 68 percent of respondents said they had experienced thieves returning stolen merchandise for store credit, which is often resold to secondary-market buyers.

“Organized retail crime continues to impact retailers at a larger scale now more than ever before,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for Supply Chain and Custom Policy.

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CONTINUED COVERAGE

This news organization is committed to bringing you in-depth retail coverage during the holiday season — work made possible by your subscription. Check out our Holiday Shopping Guide 2017 for everything you need to know before you head out next weekend at daytondailynews.com/retail/

Crews battle fire in Dayton home; 1 injury reported

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 9:06 AM

At least one person has been injured after a fire broke out in a Dayton home Saturday morning. 

TRENDING: 18-year-old killed in overnight shooting; SWAT surrounds suspect’s home

Firefighters were dispatched to the first block of South Westview Avenue around 8:50 a.m. on reports of house fire. 

RELATED: Roof collapses after fire breaks out in Dayton house

First units on scene said one person inside the home was injured and requested to a medic to the scene. The condition of the victim was not immediately known.

Firefighters also reported smoke showing from the structure when they arrived, according to initial reports. 

We’re monitoring this developing story and we’ll update this page as we learn more. 

Dayton SWAT activity connected to overnight shooting

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 7:47 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:30 AM

UPDATE @ 8:30 a.m. 

Police confirm SWAT activity in the 1400 block of Tampa Avenue is connected to an overnight shooting on Caliph Court where an 18-year-old was shot and killed. 

RELATED: Teen shot, killed in overnight shooting; SWAT surrounds suspect’s house

The story in the link above will be updated with the latest details on the shooting and SWAT activity. 

FIRST REPORT

We’re working to learn more about police activity reported at a home on Tampa Avenue in Dayton Saturday morning. 

TRENDING: Teen shot, killed overnight inside Dayton apartment

Multiple Dayton police officers currently have the house in the 1400 block of Tampa Avenue surrounded and are demanding the occupants to exit, according to initial reports. 

Scanner traffic indicates SWAT has been requested to the scene, but dispatchers were not able to confirm those reports. 

Our crew is on the way and we’ll update this page when we learn more. 

Teen killed in overnight shooting identified; SWAT currently surrounds suspect’s home

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 1:40 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:45 AM

Dayton police and SWAT have surrounded a home in the 1400 block of Tampa Avenue where investigators said a suspect from an overnight shooting is believed to be barricaded inside.

UPDATE @ 8:45 a.m. 

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has identified the woman killed in an overnight shooting on Caliph Court as Dontiaunna Brown, 18, of Dayton. 

Brown’s cause of death has not been officially ruled and an autopsy is scheduled for later today. 

Dayton police and SWAT continue to surround a home in the 1400 block of Tampa Avenue where investigators said a suspect is believed to be barricaded inside. 

We’ll update this page as we learn more. 

UPDATE @ 8:20 a.m. 

Police and SWAT have surrounded a home in the 1400 block of Tampa Avenue in Dayton where an overnight shooting suspect is believed to be barricaded inside, according to Dayton police. 

Officers have blocked off the area and are demanding the occupants to exit the house, according to our crew on the scene. 

Police confirmed to our crew the subject of the SWAT callout is connected to the overnight shooting on Caliph Court where an 18-year-old woman was killed. 

We’ll update this page as we learn more. 

UPDATE @ 3:05 a.m. 

An 18-year-old woman was shot and killed inside an apartment on Caliph Court early Saturday morning, according to Dayton police. 

TRENDING: Passenger takes off in car, crashes as driver takes sobriety tests

The woman was found suffering from a gunshot wound to her neck around 1:25 a.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Dayton police Sgt. Theodore Trupp. 

CRIME: The Christmas Killings: Dayton’s worst crime spree

Trupp said it was too early in their investigation to determine what led to the shooting and police do not have any suspects.

>>Latest Local News

Additional details about the investigation were not available. 

The identity of the woman has not been released, pending notification of family. 

FIRST REPORT

Police and medics have responded to a report of a person shot on Caliph Court in Dayton early Saturday morning.

Emergency crews responded to the 5000 block of Caliph Court around 1:25 a.m. after the incident was reported. 

Officers are reportedly looking in the area for at least one suspect and have requested a K9 officer to the scene, according to initial reports. 

The condition of the victim was not immediately known. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as we learn more. 

Georgia student discovers birth brother attended same college, had same major

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:35 AM

DNA helped a Georgia college student connect with his sibling and birth parents.
Getty Images
DNA helped a Georgia college student connect with his sibling and birth parents.(Getty Images)

The slogan for purchasing a DNA test kit on the genealogy website Ancestry.com is "Open a world of possibilities."

>> Read more trending news
For a Georgia college junior, a DNA test earlier this week opened up his family history and helped him connect to a long-lost sibling and his birth parents.
Kieron Christian Graham, 20, is majoring in political science at Kennesaw State University, which is located northwest of Atlanta. He was adopted in 1997 when he was 3 months old. Growing up, he knew the first names of his birth mother and father and that his birth mother had another child named "Vincent," who was nine years older, BuzzFeed reported.

"I periodically would look for them and check on Facebook, but I never knew their last name so it was always hard," Graham said.

His adoptive parents gave him an AncestryDNA test kit as an early Christmas present. On Tuesday he received the results in an email, BuzzFeed reported. Out of the 100 loose matches was a strong match to a 29-year-old man named Vincent Ghant, who also had taken a DNA test.

When Graham checked on Facebook, he found a Vincent Grant whose birthday matched the documents his adoptive parents had. He sent Ghant a friend request, and as they chatted on Tuesday, Graham mentioned the name of his birth mother, Shawn.

“My heart stopped,” Ghant told BuzzFeed. “I asked my mother about him throughout my life, but the pain was so heavy on her that it was hard for her to drum up the words to explain it to me. ... So it just got to the point where I was, like, I'll just wait for her when she's ready.”

The two men learned they were not only brothers, but they also were attending the same college, were both majoring in political science and lived only 15 minutes apart, BuzzFeed reported. Oddly enough, they also attended a class together.

The brothers finally met at a local bar this week, BuzzFeed reported. Graham recalled Ghant telling him, "I've been thinking about you for 20 years."

Ghant said the meeting was “very emotional.”

“I was excited but a little bit scared if he had any resentment towards my family,” Ghant said.

Graham had no hard feelings, understanding that his birth mother was a single parent and chose adoption to give him a better life.

"When I realized he didn't [have resentment] and that he had a great life, I was amazed," Ghant said.

Graham has since contacted his birth mother and plans to meet with her this weekend. He said he also plans to meet with his birth father, BuzzFeed reported.

"My birth father broke down in tears," he said.

Graham also met Ghant’s 17-year-old brother, Christian,

Graham told BuzzFeed that his adoptive parents have been wholly supportive of his journey of discovery. They also plan to meet Graham's birth mother and that entire side of the family, he said.