Walmart evacuation highlights fear of public mass shootings

Posted: Updated:

A Walmart in Union County was evacuated Thursday after a customer saw a threat on social media.

Coincidentally a 20-year-old Newark man also allegedly stole an Airsoft gun inside the store, leaving some to believe there was in fact an armed many inside the store.

Although officials say that there was no credible threat to the Walmart in Union, many shoppers told News 12 New Jersey that the threat of a potentially shooting out in public is often on their minds.

"Citizens are stressed every day. When we walk in a store…we never know whose going to come in shooting,” says Robin Jones of Roselle.

RELATED: Union Walmart evacuated; reports of masked gunman unfounded 
RELATED: Community holds vigil, rally in wake of weekend mass shootings 

Jones say that she watches the news reports of mass shootings in America. The most recent at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3 and one in Dayton, Ohio a day later.

Shoppers say that these incidents leave them questioning if they should go out to do something as innocent as buying groceries.

"I guess you just hope that nothing happens and also think, ‘What are the chances it's going to happen to me at this Walmart here today?’” says Maddy Devereaux of Florham Park.

Some mental health experts say that the stress is turning the public into anxious people because safety can no longer be guaranteed.

“There’s high levels of anxiety, high depression, high levels of PTSD that we haven’t seen previously,” says psychotherapist Maria Elena Misito-Simone.

Misito-Simone says that the public needs to trust in law enforcement and those who are looking out for society.

"Businesses have plans in place, law enforcement has plans in place. And we have to trust that they're doing their jobs,” she says.

Misito-Simone says that although people are anxious, they need to push forward. One shopper told News 12 that she was not going to let fear control her life.

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