As police continue to investigate a potential gunman situation at a Fairfield mall last Saturday, questions have arisen about security policies in the mall for a shooter situation.
Imagine shopping one moment, hearing people run in fear and screaming gunman the next.
That’s what Vanessa Curiel went through last Saturday night at the Solano Town Center, but when she tried to hide and take cover inside a shoe store, she was denied.
"All of a sudden, the person on the phone was saying that we couldn't be there,” said Curiel.
Fearful for her life, Curiel claims the store employees told her, it was policy.
"We're just stuck. We're saying to ourselves, 'Are you guys really kicking us out right now? There's a shooter outside,'" said Curiel.
Mall officials were reluctant to address the specific security policy that led to Curiel being barred from entering the store for refuge.
“The police department takes control whenever there's an emergency situation. Please direct your questions to the police department,” said Mall General Manager Stan Hoffman.
Here is the police response.
"Hide anywhere you can hide. Right now the consensus is to run, hide or fight,” said Fairfield Police Sgt. Matt Bloesch.
Fight being in desperation. But Curiel says she couldn't hide, despite a situation for which she thought her life was on the line -- store rules.
Police say there is no evidence showing a shooting occurred Saturday night. They say witness statements vary, some claim to have seen a man pull out a gun, others say no gun.
But for Curiel, the fear was very real.
"They did not want to be liable for us,” said Curiel.
A policy, she says, needs to change.
In a statement sent to FOX 40 in the hours following the brief interaction with management staff, Hoffman said the following:
“The safety of our shoppers, guests, tenants and employees is our number one priority.
In addition to our partnerships with area law enforcement, our security teams train and prepare for a number of situations, including an active shooter.
However, we don’t share details of the mall’s security response plans as it compromises public safety.”