DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Following a series of shootings at the Streets at Southpoint in Durham, the mall has added a firearm detecting K-9 as additional security at the mall.
The mall said most shoppers won’t even know the K-9, named “Cigan,” has checked them for a firearm.
Cigan received specialized training by Southern Coast K9 before coming to Southpoint. The K-9 will be with a security officer during searches.
“We share the concerns of our community following recent incidents, which lead to the decision to implement this new security measure,” said the mall’s senior general manager, Patrick Anderson. “The wellbeing of all guests, tenants, and employees is paramount, especially as we head into the home stretch of the holiday season. We hope that taking this action will help us to move forward together.”
The mall said firearms are prohibited at The Streets at Southpoint. But there have been a series of gun-related incidents at the mall over the last few months.
On Nov. 26, three people were shot when someone tried to rob someone in the mall, and two men fired guns at each other, police said.
The robbery suspect and two innocent bystanders were shot.
On Dec. 8, Durham police said there was an altercation in the food court that involved a man getting assaulted and a handgun and wallet getting stolen.
And on Sunday, police responded to a call of shots fired in the parking lot of the mall, but when they arrived they did not find a victim or a suspect.
In late October, a fight broke out at the mall during which a gun was shown and a loud noise convinced shoppers there was a shooting, according to police.
No shots were fired, but several people were injured — including a pregnant woman who was trampled — during a rush by shoppers and others to escape the mall.
While Durham police have increased patrols at the mall in recent months, officials at Southpoint Mall decided to also add the “gun sniffing” K9 to help patrol the common areas at the mall.
Mall officials told CBS 17 on Tuesday that Cigan has already started patrolling the common areas of the mall.
Bill Heiser, president of Southern Coast K9, trained Cigan and said that Cigan’s handler, who is a security officer at Southpoint, came down to their facility outside of Daytona Beach to train with the dog.
“Their sense of smell is unbelievable,” Heiser said. “What we’re training him to do is sniff out gun powder, shell casings, and the gun itself.”
Heiser said adding Cigan to patrol is one step that can help prevent future incidents at the mall involving guns.
“The dog is another tool they can use and obviously they are proactive, versus reactive,” Heiser said.
Shoppers at Southpoint said that they hope this new initiative will deter people from carrying guns inside and hopefully create a safer shopping atmosphere.
“It can’t hurt. I don’t see anything wrong with having a K9 unit there,” said Ben Romanowski, “It will make me feel safer I guess in the long run.”