UPDATE: Police arrested 47-year-old Scott Ostrem, the suspected shooter who opened fire inside a Colorado Walmart Wednesday night, killing 3 people.
November 2, 2017 Law enforcement officials in Colorado are searching for a gunman who walked into a Walmart in Thornton, Colorado and opened fire with a handgun, randomly shooting at people, killing two men and a woman before fleeing.
Thornton Police Department spokesman, Victor Aliva told reporters the suspect entered a Walmart in Thornton, Colorado, and opened fire a little after 6 p.m. on Wednesday and then walked out, got into a red four-door Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback and drove away.
“This is a very heinous act,” Avila said. “We don’t know exactly what the motive of the person was, but it was certainly a terrible act.”
Police say there is no indication the shooting is terrorism related. Thornton is a suburb of Denver, Colorado. The Walmart is part of the Thornton Town Center, a shopping complex steps from Interstate 25 in Thornton, a city with a population of about 136,000 residents.
As the 2017 holiday season quickly approaches, retailers will be tasked with providing enough security to make customers feel safe——on a limited budget.
Although Thornton Police do not believe the shooting is an act of terrorism, “soft targets” like Walmart and shopping malls have long been favored targets for terrorist groups. Shopping centers are a place where hundreds or even thousands congregate and security is lax.
In August, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI distributed a joint bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country warning that ISIS sympathizers or “homegrown” terrorists have shifted their focus to civilian targets instead of government and military instillations. The bulletin said that according to analysis, more than 75 percent of homegrown violent extremists disruptions and attacks over the last 12 months have focused on civilian targets.
Al-Qaeda’s training manual specifically instructs members of the terrorist organization to seek out Western targets to “blast and destroy places of amusement, immortality and sin.”
The U.S. government’s role in protecting the public at “soft targets” across the country is controversial. Because shopping malls are privately owned, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — the federal agency charged with ensuring the public safety of American citizens is limited to providing suggestions and initiatives such as tax breaks for businesses that invest in bolstering security for anything other than shoplifting.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."