Gun use at mall called 'crazy'
Shoppers said they felt uneasy after a security guard fired a gun at Valley View.
By Lerone Graham

Valley View Mall shoppers Sunday afternoon said a security guard who fired a gun to stop a suspected shoplifter Friday was too heavy-handed in his approach.

"You shoot at somebody because they're shoplifting? Nobody's life is in danger," said Gene Goodman of Pearisburg.

Roanoke police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said a J.C. Penney security guard followed a shoplifting suspect to the mall parking lot and fired a single shot in an effort to stop him. The man was detained until police arrived.

Jared Stephen Ware, 40, of Christiansburg was arrested and charged with grand larceny, Johnson said. She said that police confiscated the Penney guard's weapon and his use of it is being investigated. No one was injured.

Penney managers declined to comment about the incident over the weekend. Johnson would not say whether the weapon taken was the guard's personal weapon or job-issued. Uniformed mall security guards were not carrying guns Sunday.

Goodman said the security guard in Friday's incident put bystanders in danger and should have given any findings to the police once Ware made it outside.

Stephanie Pruchniak of Pearisburg said she respects anyone's right to carry a weapon, but said it was "crazy" for it to be used in this instance.

"Quite frankly, that would have scared me," said Brooke Feazell of Roanoke.

Her friend Coreina Nester of Roanoke said the incident could have happened anywhere, but it gives her something to think about because she frequents the mall.

"That was a bit much," Nester said.

Valley View Mall's management office was closed for the weekend and officials could not be reached. Calls and e-mails to J.C. Penney's media relations department throughout the weekend were not returned.