Armed thugs ran through the Dadeland Mall yesterday morning, shooting workers and shoppers before they were finally gunned down by police, but don't worry, it was just a drill.
The Miami-Dade Police Department, working with the Simon Property Group, which owns Dadeland and several other South Florida Mall, organized the training exercise to make sure they are prepared to handle a real life mall shooting.
"The Miami-Dade Police Department is continuously training its officers to address various situations they can face during their tour of duty," said Maj. Mike Herrera, with the Miami-Dade PD. "One of those situations that could be very heinous would be having an active shooter inside one of the local malls."
Sunday's simulation may have been ficticious, but it was based in reality. The real thing happened on December 1, 2008, when two armed men confronted an armored truck driver inside the Express store in the mall. The men shot and killed the guard, making off with a bag of cash. Four people were later arrested in connection with the robbery.
Lydia Gilmore, with the Simon Group, said it's important to be prepared for any possible scenario.
"This just helps us prepare for, heaven forbid, something happens and we at least have this exercise and this drill that we can practice emergency techniques, communication, anything that we would need to know should an event like this occur," Gilmore said.
Maj. Herrera said officers responding to any such situation would have a multitude of tasks to perfrom under pressure.
"The key elements are to identify the shooter or shooters, to neutralize the threat, to contain the situation and to provide first aid to anyone who would need it inside the mall," Herrera said.
Police and mall employees hope they never have to respond to a situation like the one they trained for, but the bottom line is that it could happen and police know they have to be ready to respond.
"The goal of the exercise is to ensure that our officers are prepared to be able to work with mall security to address the situation, to contain the situation properly and to be able to ensure the safety of all the shoppers and the community at large," Herrera said.