2022 River Oaks Mall shooting: A person of interest is in custody following the death of security guard Norman Thomas, Calumet City police say

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CALUMET CITY, Ill. (WLS) — A person of interest is currently in custody in connection with the River Oaks Mall shooting that left one security guard dead, Calumet City Police said Saturday.

Police have not released any further details at this time.

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.

Businesses at the River Oaks Mall in Calumet City are in mounting trouble just days after a mall security guard was shot dead there.

RELATED: Questions mount after security guard‘s death in River Oaks mall shooting

There have been quite a few mixed messages at the River Oaks Mall. Calumet City officials said the plan was to reopen Friday with heightened security, and they did — but most stores remain closed as the investigation continues.

“All the store managers and workers are confused,” said Osama Rehman, a JBees employee.

Employees said they received a letter from police on Friday morning saying the mall was temporarily closed, but the company that owns and operates the mall said otherwise.

“The mall is opened by security and management, but the police, they want it shut down,” Rehman said. “They don’t want us to open the store.”

Despite the confusion, customers were still walking around as usual as most stores in the mall remained closed.

Some shoppers were further shaken after hearing Norman Thomas, 57, was shot and killed while guarding a jewelry store in the mall.

“My heart really goes out to this guy,” said buyer Leon Ellis. “Like I said, he was a very, very nice guy.”

Crimes like this are one of the reasons Calumet City pushed to make a change.

The city did not return ABC7’s request for comment on Friday, but pointed to crime issues around this mall in the past. City spokesman Sean Howard even brought up the issue on Wednesday.

“If you just google over the past 12 months, we’ve constantly discussed taking over this mall for a variety of reasons, but particularly safety,” Howard said.

LEARN MORE | Security guard killed in mall shooting was a veteran, grandpa

This week’s shooting is the latest in a string of incidents over the past few years. There was a shooting just outside the mall in 2019 that killed two people. Another shooting occurred in May 2021 inside the mall, but no one was injured. Employees said the lack of security was concerning.

“It’s a very big mall and you might see a security guard, two security guards,” Rehman said. “They have no weapons, nothing. Burglaries happen like every day.”

Some customers also think the city should add more protection, rather than closing the mall permanently.

“Strengthen security,” Ellis said. “Put cops here. That’s what they get paid for.”

A shop owner also said off camera that he still sees many businesses here and would have a problem with any permanent closures. ABC7 is still awaiting a response from the mayor’s office regarding any future plans with the mall.

Police have previously said they are looking for several suspects, but so far no arrests have been made.

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