The morning after a gunman left 20 people dead a a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and another shooter killed nine people in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio, shoppers on Long Island and in Brooklyn on Sunday expressed outrage and concern for the victims, but said that despite the violence, life must go on.
The Walmart on Broadhollow Road in Farmingdale was bustling late Sunday morning, with Debbie DeMartino of Huntington Station among the crowd. She said her habits in public have changed since mass shootings have become more common.
“I check out where the exits are,” she said. “You have to safeguard yourself.”
She said she’d like to see security guards and metal detectors in more public places.
But, no matter what, “We have to live our lives,” she said.
Representatives of the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead and Deer Park; Simon Properties, which operates Roosevelt Field in Garden City, Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station; and Westfield Properties — which operates Sunrise Mall in Massapequa and South Shore mall in Bay Shore — did not return requests for comment about whether additional security measures were being implemented.
Representatives at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, the Gallery at Westbury Plaza and Broadway Commons Mall in Hicksville also couldn’t be reached for comment.
Marshalyn Jones of North Babylon said the shootings haven’t deterred her from visiting public places, but her mindset has shifted.
“You’re a little nervous shopping,” she said while exiting Walmart. “You don’t know where it’s going to come from. You just got to be careful” but not scared, she added. “You gotta live. You can’t stay in your house all day.”
Errol Henry of Amityville said a thought crossed his mind as he pulled into the Walmart parking lot.
“I said to myself: ‘The world has to go on,’ ” he said. “Things happen and it’s a sad state of affairs.”
He thinks the negative political discourse may in part encourage violent acts.
“We have to find a way to speak to one another, and our leaders have to be careful about what they say and not galvanize,” he said.
At the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, Abe Dibba of Bellport felt like many others, that one shouldn’t be frightened.
“I understand in life, things happen, and you can’t live your life scared,” he said. “You can’t worry about things you don’t have control over.”
Camila McCusker of Coram and Clare Stansbury of Schenectady were shopping at the mall early Sunday afternoon and both said they heard the news of the two mass shootings, but it didn’t occur to them to stay home on Sunday.
“It’s way too normalized,” McCusker said. “If I had to think about it, I wouldn’t go anywhere.”
Stansbury agreed and said, “We shouldn’t be OK to go shopping [after what happened]. I didn’t think about it. That’s the scary part.”
At the Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn, some shoppers said they were frightened by the news but also expressed resolve and confidence in their safety.
"My stomach is literally turning. That's very tragic," said Jadene Wright, 25, of Ozone Park, adding that she is now even more alert when in large open spaces.
Gula Komtcoshvili, 26, of Midwood, said a mass shooting at Kings Plaza would be unheard of.
"The gun laws are stricter here and hopefully it will never happen in this mall," she said. "I think the people here are different. I feel safe."
Jenny Lewis of Crown Heights said it is frightening to know that someone could wake up and kill multiple people.
"There's racism all over and it seems like it's getting worse," Lewis said. "It's not just black and white. It's everything that they think is not normal. I just gotta do what I gotta do. I believe God will protect me."
With Andy Mai