PARKING LOT STANDOFF
Questions are being raised in one of America’s safest cities after a fatal shooting that followed a robbery Sunday afternoon at the Mission Viejo mall.
The mall is located very close to Saddleback College. It provides employment and shopping opportunities for Saddleback students.
According to reports, Kirk Knight, 27, of Rancho Santa Margarita walked into the mall around 5 p.m. wearing a disguise. His costume consisted of a wig, but he was also carrying a semi-automatic handgun and a suitcase. Knight was also carrying plenty of extra ammunition.
Once in the mall, he proceeded to enter the Fredric H. Rubel jewelry store where he led two employees into the back room, and then came back out. Knight then smashed the glass display cases, stuffing jewelry into his briefcase, authorities said.
Causing a spectacle, mostly because of his outrageous wig, a crowd of onlookers including a mall security guard and neighboring store workers, crowded around the outside of the jewelry store. Apparently upset by the attention, Knight pulled out his handgun and ran out of the mall through Nordstrom and into the parking structure.
While the mall crowd ran and screamed, Knight tripped and fell while running across the bridge the leads to the parking structure, causing everything inside his briefcase to fall out.
Trapped in the parking structure, Knight decided to fire his gun at not only a crowd of shoppers, but also at sheriff deputies.
Deputies waited until it was safe before they returned fire, fatally wounding Knight.
Among the many people who were working at the mall was Saddleback student Nikki Heintz, 20, fine arts major. She was working on the lower level of the mall at a store called Sephora. The jewelry store is located on the second level but in the same general location as Heintz’s employer.
“No one from security came around to tell us what was going on,” Heintz said. “We had no idea what was going on. I went outside to throw away trash from the store when I saw a bunch of police with dogs and guns. They police were dressed to kill. I was creeped out.”
Reaction from the community definitely seems to be that of concern.
“I think there should be more control and better communication so we knew what was going on,” said Heintz. “The security guard got scared and ran. I found that to be very inconsiderate. Why would the mall officials not clue us in on what was going on?”
Although a rare occurrence for Mission Viejo, Heintz said it is almost as if the community is ill-prepared for this type of situation.