Pattye Benson

Community Matters

King of Prussia Mall Parking Lot . . . Saturday Afternoon . . . Gunpoint Robbery

This morning, there was an online news article from The Mercury with the following story. Most readers would probably have given the King of Prussia police report but a passing glance, and I too would likely have skipped over it, . . . that is until the subject of guns in Valley Forge National Historical Park became a topic last week. Until that new federal law was instituted allowing weapons in Valley Forge park, I was naively going through life not giving much thought to guns in general, let alone in Tredyffrin Township.

But the reality is that now I do read the police report about the armed robbery on Saturday afternoon in the parking area of the King of Prussia Mall. The commentary on gun ownership, individual protection, the NRA, Second Amendment rights, etc. has provided many of us with new information. Whether its the discussion on Second Amendment rights in Valley Forge National Historical Park, or an armed robbery at our local shopping mall, this dicussion has served to open my eyes. Gone is my innocent thinking that guns are only somewhere else . . . I am much more informed on the subject.

King of Prussia Mall Employee Robbed at Gunpoint

Published: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

KING OF PRUSSIA — An employee of The Court at King of Prussia was robbed at gunpoint Sunday afternoon in the mall parking lot, police said. Upper Merion police are investigating the robbery and asking the public’s help to nab a suspect.

The 20-year-old mall employee had gone from the store where he worked to his vehicle on the first level of the Court parking garage at 4:25 p.m., when he was accosted by a man with a handgun, police said. “He was going out to retrieve something out of his car,” Upper Merion Police Lt. James Early said. The officer said the incident occurred in the garage not far from Allendale Road.

The assailant reportedly pointed a black semi-automatic gun at the worker and demanded his wallet. After the victim turned over his wallet, the robber fled west on Court Boulevard toward Mall Boulevard. Investigators don’t believe the gunman knew the mall employee. Armed robberies are “pretty rare” in and around the sprawling 3-million-square-foot shopping mall complex that includes King of Prussia Plaza, The Court at King of Prussia and The Pavilion, Early said. The mall has more than 400 retail stores and dozens of restaurants.

The gunman was described as a black male in his early 20s with short black hair. He wore a black zip-up jacket and dark jeans, authorities said. Police searched the area but were unable to locate a suspect. “We’re asking anyone who witnessed the crime to call our detectives,” Early said.

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  1. Good commentary Pattye.

    It’s not like this happened at 2 in the morning in a empty parking lot. This happened at 4:30 on a weekend afternoon with plenty of people around. It’s not as safe and happy happy as some like to believe. It’s not the end of the world and everybody needs to be sequestered, but it’s not as rosy as many of the anti-gun people like to paint it.
    Read the newspaper police blotter. There are armed robberies in the area all the time. The bank that’s over there at Swedesford and Valley Forge Rds has been held up at least 5 or 6 times in the last 2 years alone.

  2. Bill — here’s your chance to expand our education. What would you have done if this person stopped YOU in the lot instead of that employee? Would you turn over your wallet ? Obviously this turned out fine — would another gun have escalated it? I know it’s purely hypothetical, but I’m wondering what people like you who are trained and competent would do? Likewise, what would you do if you witnessed this? Is it something you think about? Is it all based on a 6th sense about danger — after all he could have shot the man after he gave him his wallet? I’m just wondering if competent gun owners have scenarios they work through ? I cannot fathom the uncertainty I would feel if I was armed — whether to engage or stand back. Thanks for your comments though — and Patty, thanks for this conversation. It’s been extremely interesting to me.

    1. Apolitical observer-
      There isn’t really enough known about this specific situation for me to feel comfortable weighing in here. But, personally, there are many factors when it comes to bad situations. First step to prevention is not getting yourself into a compromising situation. I.E. Park in well-populated and well-lit areas. If leaving late try and go in groups, attackers are hesitant to go after numbers. Always be wary of those around you, whether it’s someone appears to be crossing over the roadway for no apparent reason other than to possibly intercept you. Does their clothing suit their weather conditions (trench-coat in summer, etc). Does it look like they are holding an object in their hands in their coat pocket, is there a bulge in their coat. Are they looking around nervously. There are a number of things that would raise your index of suspicion. None of these warrants shooting anybody, or even pulling a gun on them. Merely, some of a list of things to continually observe in your surroundings. In my Army days many, many years ago now, we referred to it as situational awareness and battle indicators. Just things that don’t seem right, or are out of the ordinary. Like I said, though. you’re not going to just be like a skiddish cat. You just make mental note of it, and perhaps cross over to the other side of the street. If I’m walking with my wife or kids, I might put myself on the side of this person to put myself between them and my loved ones.

      If someone pulls a gun on me, I’m not just going to pull my firearm out right there. He already has the element of surprise and advantage, he could easily shoot me before I would be able to pull my firearm out and use it. I’d give him my wallet and hope to deescalate the situation with that. If that doesn’t appear to work, I would continue to position myself between the person and my loved ones. If I’m alone, I will try to stall and delay as much as possible and look for any openings (he allows me within reach, he becomes distracted enough that I can take cover, disarm him, draw my weapon). The longer you delay, the better your chances of the person backing down and running away since they’ve gotten what they wanted. But, as I said earlier, if I’ve let myself get into this situation, I’ve probably already dropped the ball somewhere.

      Plus, it won’t be any sort of Starsky and Hutch shootout in the parking garage. The majority of small arms, self-defense incidents occur at very close range (i.e. 10 meters or less).

      There is an endless possibility of scenarios and responses to those scenarios, and you can never be prepared for every single one. But what you can do to put the odds in your favor is to constantly observe your surroundings and work out exit strategies (i.e. when you drive down the highway, you’re constantly reassessing which way you would be able to go if the car in front of you got into an accident; you drive down the center lane so that you have the most possible avenues of safety, vice just staying in the middle lane or shoulder where your only options could be guardrail or embankment). Always think and be ever-vigilant. It could save you not just from a mugging or a shooting, but as I pointed out already, an auto accident, a random accident walking down the street, etc.

  3. Bill L
    Thank you VERY much. This is exactly the kind of exchange — between people with information and people needing information — that blogs can excel at. Trading opinions is fun — but seems to deteriorate too easily in this world of anonymity. Thank you for this answer and thanks to Pattie for her hosting this exchange.

  4. i don’t go to that mall anymore – it use to be smaller and we walked on the outside of the stores. the place is tooooo big now and many undesireables come there. there are many misfits from philly hanging around and you see where phila. is today. beats out camden on the crime list

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