University Park Mall business owners frustrated over recent violence

NOW: University Park Mall business owners frustrated over recent violence

 ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - After a suspected accidental shooting outside the University Park Mall left one teenager injured over the weekend, business owners inside the mall are feeling frustrated, saying events like this give the mall a bad reputation.

And with less than a week until Christmas, the last thing many of these businesses need is customers too afraid to step into their storefronts.

“We were told that it was a discharge of a firearm, accidental discharge. And it was all contained within one car," said Gail Savick, owner of The Blanket Hog. “People blew up the situation, and it hurts the small businesses like us. It hurts all the business in the mall. And it’s safe here.”

Savick is referring to people on social media. At the time the shooting occurred, police were responding to a small fight inside the mall, and social media posts led many to believe the two incidents were connected. Police have since confirmed the incidents were separate, and the shooting was likely accidental.

But this isn’t the first time the mall has been the backdrop for violence in the area. The mall has seen at least six shootings since 2017, two of them deadly. And with every incident, one business owner says the number of customers shopping drops.

“I feel like we do get a bad rep, actually,” said Melissa Rumple, president of Sweet Treats Candy. “There’s a couple instances a couple years ago that happened in a short amount of time, which deterred everyone from coming to the mall. But I feel like it’s safe.”

A 15-year-old boy was taken into custody in connection with Sunday’s shooting. The victim is recovering from her injuries.

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