Safety Takes Center Stage After Car Drives Through Woodfield Mall

Schaumburg's mayor, Tom Dailly, had called for such barriers at all entrances at the mall

After a vehicle drove through Schaumburg's popular Woodfield Mall last month, officials in the northwest Chicago suburb are set to discuss a move that could pave that way for a law requiring buildings to install barriers outside their entrances.

Schaumburg's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday plans to recommend to the village board that an ordinance require new safety protections at certain locations throughout the city. Such protections could include barriers outside building entrances, which were not present at the Sears store an SUV crashed through before entering Woodfield Mall on Sept. 20. 

No one was seriously injured in the incident, but authorities estimated it caused more than $110,000 in damages.

The event prompted questions over why barriers weren't installed at all mall entrances, but Woodfield's management said it was Sears' decision to not install them. 

A construction company released new photos on Saturday showing damage left by an SUV that drove through Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

"All mall entrances have bollards installed," the mall said in a statement. "However, the Sears property is owned by Sears, not the mall. Therefore the decision regarding whether or not to install bollards at their entrance is up to them. With respect to the Mayor, he should direct his comments to Sears which owns its store. Further, we are unaware of any previous discussions with the Mayor regarding bollards.”

Transform Co, Sears' parent company, said in a statement it plans to "review its safety and security measures and protocols at our properties."

Video from a witness shows a vehicle driving through Woodfield Mall ahead of a massive police response. (Courtesy: Ronin/Twitter)

The man accused of driving the SUV into and through the mall, 23-year-old Javier Garcia, has been indicted on charges of terrorism and criminal damage to property. He's due to be arraigned next week. 

Schaumburg's mayor, Tom Dailly, admits barriers outside commercial properties is something the city should have looked at before, noting it was brought to light in wake of the Woodfield Mall crash. 

"Any time there is a high-profile safety incident, it is important that we review and analyze our response efforts and determine if safety improvements are needed," Schaumburg Police Chief Bill Wolf said in a statement. "As part of our follow-up of the September 20 Woodfield Mall incident, the village reviewed mall entrances and protection being offered at various locations. We’ve also looked at the context of protection at other locations since accidental or negligent-type incidents involving vehicles are also a common occurrence that can impact public safety. All information will be shared with village officials, and they will make the determination to move forward with a draft ordinance to require security enhancements at certain buildings in the village to further enhance public safety." 

Should the committee's recommendation be approved Tuesday, the village board would then research the idea and draft a potential ordinance. Research would include building entrance sizes, distance specifications and what type of buildings would be included under such an ordinance. 

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

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