RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The holiday shopping season is in full swing and unfortunately, families aren't just worried about inflation but also about their safety.
During the long holiday weekend, gun violence overshadowed the joy of the season. Sunday night, a man was shot at Raleigh's popular North Hills shopping center. While police say it was an isolated incident, between the suspect and victim, the shooting was still unnerving for shoppers in the busy retail complex.
On Black Friday, an argument escalated into gunfire inside the Walmart in Lumberton. Police have a 26-year-old man in custody for that shooting.
And down east, a fight ended with two men shot inside the Greenville Mall.
"There are a lot of guns out there legally. And there's a lot of guns out there illegally. So the possibility of a shooting occurring can happen," said Dr. Roy Taylor, chief of Capital Special Police, a private security firm that in holidays past has supplemented security at Crabtree Valley and Triangle Town Center malls.
Taylor said he thinks shoppers should make a shopping safety plan:
- Tell a friend or loved one where you're going -- so someone can check in
- Travel in pairs
- Park in well-lit areas
- Keep your car keys in your hand so you can hop inside quickly or hit the panic button in a pinch
At Cary Crossroads on Cyber Monday, there was still plenty of in-person holiday shopping amid concerns over safety.
"I definitely saw that something was going on at North Hills Mall," said shopper Shauna Awad. "It freaked me out a little bit because that's the mall I shop at -- wouldn't have expected that."
David Hughes, a military veteran, added, "I feel fairly safe... I don't know if I've gotten numb to being aware of the possibility of violence in my world or not."
Taylor reminds shoppers of the moniker "Run, hide, fight." If you hear gunshots -- run as quickly as you can out of the building. Or hide in a place that's hopefully bullet-resistant. And the last alternative: fight for your life.
"Use any improvised weapon you can: a fire extinguisher, a pair of scissors, a coat hanger, whatever you can find. Use a weapon and defend yourself," he said.
Taylor says law enforcement and private security should be focused on being highly visible right now so shoppers can see their presence. Reassurance for shoppers.
"Don't be a victim of being afraid," he said about shoppers. "Get out and enjoy yourself. But just be mindful of your surroundings. Don't be so engaged in holiday festivities that you're not paying attention to what's going on around you."