The exterior of the Source Mall is seen in Westbury...

The exterior of the Source Mall is seen in Westbury in Long Island, New York. Credit: Photo by Yana Paskova

Christine Wright, a Levittown mother of two, said she was shocked to learn that Evan Sachs - the 23-year-old man accused of plunging a knife into the back of an 8-year-old boy - had allegedly searched for a victim recently at the same mall where she strolled with her two sons Monday.

Wright, 25, said she always keeps her children nearby, but the stabbing at the Westbury Dave & Buster's Friday night will make her more vigilant with Cayden, 8 months old, and Joey, 8 years old.

"I don't let him [Joey] leave my sight," said Wright, a stay-at-home mom, while shopping at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville. The attack "makes me nervous. There's a bunch of crazy people out there."

Wright's reaction was typical of parents who said they are keeping a close watch as they shop at Long Island malls. The attack at the restaurant-arcade, police said, occurred in an instant and with the victim's parents only feet away. But the news that police said Sachs had been looking for victims in malls put parents on alert.

"In a mall you don't know what can happen, so you have to watch your kids," said Suzette Henry, 40, of Springfield Gardens, as she watched her nephew, Kesean Henry, 6, at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. "He's always in front of me."

Victor Weinz, 46, of Sea Cliff, at the Broadway Mall with his family Monday to pick up sneakers, said, "It's upsetting that random acts of violence are so close to home."

Some experts said mall security can do only so much.

Police said Sachs plotted his attack for weeks, visiting Broadway, Green Acres, Roosevelt Field and the Walt Whitman Mall in South Huntington, aiming to stab a young boy.

"A mall can be a candy store for pedophiles and other people preying on the innocent," said Kenneth Cooper, director of THT of New York, a security and law enforcement-training academy in Kingston.

No official at any of the four malls would comment.

But William Nesbitt, president of Security Management Services International, in Newbury Park, Calif., said malls can take some preventive measures.

Many set up police substations, he said. Others train staff of all kinds, not just security guards, to remain alert.

"You may see someone walking around aimlessly. If someone is armed, they may be overdressed in warm weather," Nesbitt said. "Someone watching video surveillance may see the same guy pop up, hanging around kids' areas," like arcades and food courts, he said. "It doesn't take a lot."

With Ann Givens

and Alfonso A. Castillo

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