SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Amanda Roff’s two children, ages nine and six, wanted to spend the last day of their break week from school at Dave and Busters.
Being good parents, Roff and her husband agreed.
Moments after they arrived at Destiny USA, they didn’t know that two floors beneath, a gun had just been fired. The family had already started play games at the restaurant’s signature arcade.
It wasn’t until someone asked if she knew what was going on, that Roff noticed the gates to the restaurant shut down. The family was locked down, as were hundreds of shoppers across the mall.
For 20 minutes, the game lights, music and sound of people playing continued inside Dave and Busters. Some people knew about the shooting, others didn’t.
Roff told her kids what was going on in another part of the building.
“My son, immediately, his face went stone cold,” Roff remembers. “Same with my daughter. I just reassured them: ‘The doors are closed. We’re okay in here.’ Kept them calm, not really knowing, as a mom, and having to answer the questions as best I can.”
Finally, police gave the mall the all clear to lift the lockdown and allow people to evacuate the mall, which was closing for the night.
Roff, who had to take her family through the parking lot to find their car as opposed to using the entrance they entered through initially, knew her children were traumatized.
“Having a nine-year-old and six-year-old,” she said, “they have a lot of questions.”
She and her husband asked: “How did this happen again here?”
After too many notable shootings or stabbings, Roff thinks Destiny USA has missed too many opportunities to announce significant security enhancements.
Mall ownership’s statement Thursday, six days after the shooting, did not name any new measures being considered.
Roff thinks the only remaining option is for the mall to install metal detectors.
In an interview with NewsChannel 9, she said, “Places like the Dome, the Amphitheater, the War Memorial, they all have metal detectors… The mall’s not really any different than those venues. People coming and going.”
NewsChannel 9 took her suggestion to Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, who spoke with mall management about ways to make people feel safer, and says they’ve come up in his prior conversations with the facility’s owners.
Mayor Walsh said, “Obviously, it likely would make it harder to bring weapons into the mall, but you don’t know the other impacts. If you don’t have a viable mall, it’s all for not.”
Concerns include the weapons detection systems slowing down shoppers entering the mall, creating lines or limiting entrances. The devices could cost a lot of money and require constant staffing.
Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile said, “It’s a private mall, private business. They have to determine that.”
Roff said, “We’re the ones going there, shopping there, bringing kids there, and want to feel safe, and if it continues like Friday, that’s not doable.”
Destiny USA management did not respond to NewsChannel 9’s question about if metal detectors ever have or ever will be considered.