On Saturday afternoon around 11:30 my daughter told me “Mom, there is a shooting in the Columbia mall”. I waved her off not taking it seriously until she showed me all the news reports showing up on her Twitter timeline. There is always news about a shooting or killing but we only pay attention when it hits close to home. The Columbia mall was not just a shopping center; it was a gathering place for seniors and a meeting place for teens, which in many cases, parents felt, was safer than going to a friend’s house. People walk through the mall year around because they don’t like the cold and hot weather out side. Columbia is relatively safe place to live and I cant believe this could happen in our community. Yesterday was a memorial inside and out side the mall. The mall reopens for the public for the first time after the shooting just a couple days after the traumatic event. I am really proud of our community, our first responders, our county, and the MD State Police Neighboring Jurisdiction for their support.
At the memorial Elijah Cummings, the All County School Board Official and later, Governor Martin O’Malley join us. That showed us how this is our Columbia family and we intend to make it feel like one. Now we all stand united. We don’t want our town to be known as the town of tragedy--our town is known for having a very loving and caring community. After the memorial all the county official/elected officials bought their lunch from the mall food court. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman urged residents to begin the healing process. "We are better than this. We have an incredibly strong, resilient, wonderful community in Howard County, and we are going to continue to show that every day."
"It's a very difficult time," Courtney Watson (HoCo Council Member) said. "Like everyone, I'm grateful to our first responders, and right now I'm very concerned about the victims and their families." U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings "This is a resilient community and let the word go out that this is one of the safest counties in the country. This shows that violent acts show no boundaries." It has been a very tough week for everyone in our community: How has this thing happened and what can we do to prevent future violent acts in our community? We need to talk about gun control. We need to talk about mental health and how kids in high school are getting marijuana easily. It would be great if society stopped glamorizing violence in our community and our social media. Lets talk about it. Columbia town center is still a safe place to go and this community is still a safe place to raise your kids. We need to work together to make our community strong during this difficult time.