Burlington Mall Holdup: live blogging
So I’m in the burlington mall at work. A supposed gunman is in nordstrom.
Everyone except legal seafoods is evacuated.
1150: 3 guys with ATF jackets just walked by.
1151: no surprise everyone has a different story of what is going on.
1152: looks like it all might be a misunderstanding. Had something that “appeared” to be a weapon. Maybe an umbrella.
1159: getting free breakfast.
Reflections on the Day:
Now that I’m back home at my computer and not attempting to write updates through my phone I’ll reflect a bit on today’s events.
I arrived at work at about 10:20am and swiftly learned about “someone being shot at Nordstrom.” He was still loose in the mall. Human psychology never ceases to amaze me; I was struck by how immediately and regularly humor was used to defuse the situation. Emotions overlapped and fluctuated between humor, bewilderment, alarm, and curiosity. We all consciously avoided windows for the most part, we ran outside when being evacuated only to return quickly to the locked restaurant – we sought to balance safety, rationality, and (astonishingly) industry.
The unreliability of information during sensational events was obvious even at the time as stories circulated of whether someone had been shot or not, whether a jewelry store had been robbed, and whether it was a shotgun, rifle, or, later, an umbrella. Yet, more interesting is how strongly evolution has biased us against skepticism due to the danger of making a Type II error.
As easily as it was to joke and is now after learning of the misunderstanding, the gunman seemed real at the time. In fact, our belief in the reality of the gunman that shot someone was real at the time. I don’t want to make more of this event than it is, but incidents like these not only make great stories but highlight insights about the world.