MOBILE, Alabama (WKRG) — Shortly after Mobile Police and mall officials disputed a viral Facebook post claiming a gunman was inside Bel-Air mall over the weekend, a customer who says she witnessed the incident is sharing her side of the story.
“I saw all the comments with people saying she (the Facebook poster) just wanted “likes” or “shares,” and it made me so angry because I was there, and it really was scary,” shopper Alesha Aborady says about why she chose to come forward.” I feel like they’re just trying to cover it up when really they just need to come up with a solution to make it a safer place.”
Aborady says she was browsing the jewelry section of Forever 21 when she heard a group of people arguing.
“There were guys hollering back and forth, and a big group of people around them. One of the guys was pushing another guy back. Then, he turns and starts heading back into the mall. When he does, he passes right in front of me. I see in his hand, he’s holding a silver pistol so that freaked me out,” Aborady describes motioning that the pistol was held low and against the man’s side out of sight to most. “I went and told mall security that this guy has a gun in his hand. So, she automatically gets her phone out to call somebody, and then I run over to the close racks to hide.”
“I saw one of the ladies who works at Forever 21. She was talking to a group of young girls, telling them to get down and hide behind the clothes racks. At that point, I realized I wanted to get out of there, so I dropped everything I had in my hands and ran out the back door of Forever 21 and ran all the way to Target. I just told my husband, ‘hey pick me up at Target. I don’t want to stay here.,'” Aborady continued.
Matthew Chudoba, a spokesperson for the mall, said they reviewed the security footage and found no evidence of any gun, despite claims that said otherwise.
In an email, Chudoba wrote, “Reports of a man being armed with a handgun during the incident are false. I have reviewed the incident report and here is what happened. There was a dispute between a man and woman. Security intervened to prevent the situation from escalating. Off duty police also responded and detained the individuals. Furthermore, the individuals involved in the incident have been permanently banned from the property, as is the case with any individual who causes a disturbance. There was no handgun present, as was floated on social media. Police searched and did not find one. A review of security footage also did not find any evidence of a hand gun.”
Mobile Police are not commenting further on the matter because spokesperson Donald Wallace said it is still under investigation.
Aborady admits she did not call police after fleeing the store because she told a mall security guard and said she assumed it was being handled by them.
Chudoba wrote, ” the safety of customers, retailers and employees is Bel Air’s foremost priority. The mall has taken many steps over the past few months to deter unruly behavior, including adding more security personnel, off-duty police officers, and cameras throughout the center. That said, Rouse understands the increased security protocols did not prevent this incident from occurring altogether. While the company cannot control people’s behavior, it will continue to focus on deterring it altogether by adjusting security measures and protocol where appropriate”