Mallgoers concerned after weekend robbery

MISHAWAKA, Ind. --- A scary situation for a local woman and her young daughter in the University Park Mall parking lot on Sunday morning; when she was threatened with a knife, robbed, and touched inappropriately.

“That really made me think twice of you know you have to watch your surroundings, you have to watch wherever you’re at, at all times,” says Evelin Vargas, a frequent shopper at the U.P. Mall.

It has many mallgoers keeping their eyes open and more aware of their surroundings.

“I was looking around, and I wanted to be as close as I could to the mall,” Vargas says. “Not only that, I wanted to make sure that there weren’t cars on, I wanted to make sure I double checked my surroundings.”

Vargas is one of many people that now think twice about where she parks at the mall, because it could have easily been her that morning.

“It’s crazy because I was on my Facebook page and I’d seen all of these people sharing this story, I clicked on it and it starts talking about the UP mall and I’m thinking ‘Wait, I was just there,’” shares Vargas.

She was by herself waiting for the mall to open Sunday morning, just like the victim. The only difference is that she was parked on the opposite side of the mall.

“The fact that, somebody going through that, and I can relate it to how old she is and stuff like that, it’s really scary,” Vargas says.

The attacker, McClaude Bridges Jr., is behind bars and officially charged with felony armed robbery and felony sexual battery. However, that doesn’t make Vargas feel any safer.

“I mean there’s more people out there. He was not the only one and he won’t be the only one,” says Vargas. “Even if I’m by myself, I watch other moms, other little kids, like ‘hey, you know, if I see anything I will be there to help.’”

Bridges is still being held at the Saint Joe County Jail without bond; he was arraigned on January 18th and is set to make his first court appearance on February 10th.

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