Tragedy in our backyard

Members of the SHS community reflect on the impact that the Greenwood Park Mall shooting has left behind


Grace Elder

The food court in the mall can be seen with no one in sight on Aug. 12. After the mass shooting at the mall, an empty food court was a common sight.

On July 17, tragedy hit the Greenwood Park Mall. A young man showed up at the mall with three guns hidden in his book bag.

He then went into the restroom to destroy evidence and assemble his firearms, which were AR-style rifles and a pistol. Over an hour later, he walked back out.

The shooting happened around 5:56 p.m.

He took the lives of a married couple and a man before being fatally shot by a person who was in the food court when it happened.

Senior Kade Trent was at the mall that day with his brother and father when suddenly, shots rang out.

“All we thought was that we just needed to get out,” Trent said. “It just gave an adrenaline rush, it was really high.”

Not long after, a herd of people escaping from the scene in the food court ran towards him and his family. The three left through the Von Maur doors, uninjured.

This shooting has affected many students like Trent, considering that the mall has been a lot of SHS students’ go-to spot prior to the shooting. The mall has been seen as a safe place where students could go for a stroll around the stores, peering through windows at clothing or hanging out at the food court to share a meal. After the shooting, some students believe there have been changes in the way the mall is perceived.

Senior Lara Schuette, a former employee at The Children’s Place in the mall, says that although she was not there that day, the shooting still affected how comfortable she is at the mall. She began to feel more cautious and paranoid working at a place where a shooting had occurred.

“I was very afraid,” Schuette said. “I’d have somebody come up (to me) and I’d get scared.”

The incident had been so traumatic to her that two days after the shooting, she couldn’t ignore the fear that she felt when returning back to the mall for work.

Schuette recalls the mall being closed for only a day, and her feelings were still quite raw when it opened.

Not long after, Schuette quit her job after continually coming into work in fear of another shooting happening.

She recalls her stomach turning when hearing about what had happened at the mall. All she could feel was worry for her close co-workers who were working that day.

The food court where Schuette would regularly eat lunch soon turned into a place where she would sit and be reminded of what happened that day.

There are people who have been feeling more cautious about incidents like this occurring again, considering how a possible threat could be disguised as an average civilian.

“Anybody could go in there and pull out a gun, sadly,” Schuette said.

Madison Neuman, a 2022 SHS graduate and mall employee was at the mall during the shooting. She recalls seeing SWAT and the bomb squad the day of the incident. From that day on, she has been more cautious around her workplace like Schuette has. She has also found importance in checking the news regularly to know if she should bring self-defense items with her whenever she’s in public.

“I try to bring pepper spray with me as much as I can,” Neuman said.

Although Trent still goes to the mall and feels that things have gone back to normal, he is more aware of what is happening around him.

“Just be more aware for now,” Trent said. “Just pay attention. Be cautious and if there’s anybody that looks suspicious, keep an eye on them.”

Schuette says the amount of employees working at the mall has decreased substantially after the shooting due to fear.

“Yes, a lot of people have (quit) from all the stores,” Schuette said. “I mean you have kids from ages of 15 to whatever age working there … Their parents are scared for their kids to go, I know my parents were.”

According to Neuman, counseling sessions have been held for the employees who have been dealing with emotional drawbacks after the shooting.

Neuman has seen mall security workers checking around each of the stores, which is a new thing that has been happening since the shooting. She has also seen a greater number of police officers and mall security workers watching over the mall.

First responders surround all entrances to the Greenwood Park Mall. (Contributed by WFYI)

Senior William Honey still goes to the mall after the shooting. He recalls feeling hesitant when he first stepped foot in the mall after the incident happened.

Applebee’s had been his friends and his go-to place to hang out every night over the summer. When they planned to hang out there after the shooting, he was skeptical.

“After that happened, I was a little scared to go,” Honey said. “(The shooting) just happened. It was kind of a scary thing.”

Since the shooting, he has been feeling paranoid when he’s in public spaces because of all the shootings that have happened over the summer.

Honey is able to feel safe in the mall again because he believes that after the shooting, security might be more strict.

He mentioned that after the incident, he feels that the mall won’t be the same as it was before.

“It used to be a very vibrant community center,” Honey said. “A dark thing happened. You can never really go in there and look at it the same.”

The food court can sometimes be seen completely empty, with no person in sight.

“There’s a silence,” Schuette said. “You can definitely tell that people are still afraid.”

Ever since that day, Neuman says that there has been a change in the people who go to the mall. Although people still go, Neuman says numbers have decreased because of how cautious people have been.

“There’s barely anyone there,” Neuman said. “Even now, there’s not that many people there since that day.”

The Journal reached out to the Greenwood Park Mall management office for data concerning the shooting but received no response.

Since the shooting, Honey says he feels unsure about his views on gun control because of how the armed civilian was able to take the shooter down before more damage could have been done.

“I feel like there should be tighter regulations for younger people” Honey said, “But also, people should be able to carry (guns) if they’re sane enough to. It’s just something we need right now.”

The changes in business is not the only thing that has been affected. The overall demeanor and mood of the mall has been different ever since the shooting.



Junior Carter Hartman says that after the shooting, he feels like he needs to be more cautious whenever he is out in public spaces.

“It’ll always be in the back of my mind,” Hartman said. “It won’t stop me from going but I’ll be more aware of my surroundings when I’m in the mall.”

Junior Meredith Ziegler says that although she has other reasons for why she does not go to the mall anymore, the shooting has been a big part of it.

Ziegler carries mace on her regularly to protect herself when she is out in public. Another way she ensures safety for herself is by having friends surround her, she never goes out alone.

She says she doesn’t feel safe in the food court specifically, but she is fine with every other part of the mall.

“That area, I just stay completely away from it,” Ziegler said.

Honey acknowledges that the mall can seem like an unsafe place for many people now because of the shooting. He says that such tragic incidents like shootings can have an impact on how the world copes and adjusts.

“It’s kind of scary but it’s just something I’ve learned to live with,” Honey said. “It’s how living in America is. I feel like they just kind of accept it.”