The atmosphere was tense as Boise Towne Square reopened Wednesday. Boise police cars were scattered throughout the mall’s interior, many stores remained closed, and people walked through the mall with cautious expressions.
But as Mayor Lauren McLean told reporters outside the main entrance, Boise Towne Square is now safe for the public to use, nearly two days after an armed gunman killed two people and injured four more. The shooter, whom police identified as Jacob Bergquist of Boise, eventually died from injuries sustained in an exchange of fire with Boise police.
“I want to assure everybody that you’re safe,” McLean said. “If you’re coming to the mall, we are ready to see you.”
The mall officially reopened at noon, when a small number of people started making their way inside. Several stores remained closed, and most of those open had only a handful of customers.
Police Chief Ryan Lee did not specify how long police would maintain an active presence, but said there was no risk of immediate danger.
McLean said she talked to store employees who shared their stories of what they did to protect lives that day. One store opened its gates to create more room for people to take shelter from the gunman, she said.
“I know that it’s tough to come back today,” she said. “They’re happy to be back today, but I can see in their eyes and hear in their voice how scared they were, how brave they were and how lucky Boiseans were to be helped by them.”
McLean heralded security guard Jo Acker, one of the victims, as a “hero” after she attempted to stop the shooter before Bergquist turned the gun on her.
Boise resident Gene Weinstein said he walks through the Boise Towne Square most days, and that while he felt safe, it had a different feeling than usual on Wednesday.
“I imagine people that work here have to be feeling different — kind of spooked out a little bit,” he said.
McLean and Lee were seen in the mall after the news conference talking to a group of people, including some clergy.
McLean said a vigil will take place at the mall Thursday evening to honor the victims, Acker and Roberto Padilla Arguelles.