Northern Va. police increase presence due to potential threat of violence at malls

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 8:13 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (7News) — While shoppers go about their business inside Springfield Town Center, it’s hardly routine outside where 7News On Your Side found a heavy police presence of marked and unmarked cruisers. Unusual for such a quiet night.

We know why they’re here. According to multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region, there’s been an unspecific threat of violence directed at soft targets like shopping malls in Northern Virginia this Halloween weekend.

Friday Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis was vague when responding to reporter questions but stressed his department is blanketing busy shopping districts, transit hubs and major thoroughfares.

Chief Davis says, “And because we receive information that has a public safety value to it it’s our responsibly to have a great presence, to be more aware and to ask the community to have their eyes and ears peeled for specific activities.”

While law enforcement agencies receive veiled threats from time to time, this one, according to ABC News sources, stems from intelligence possibly linked to ISIS.

Due to the potential threat to public safety, 7News On Your Side reached out to and received responses from, police agencies throughout the region. All stating their awareness of this information and their increased community presence.

For example, Alexandria Police said, “While information is limited, we remain vigilant and dedicated to protecting our community.”

“The problem with these kinds of statements is you don’t know exactly what they mean,” says former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett.

Brad Garrett, a crime and terrorist analyst, told us while it’s hard to decipher the nature and scope of this potential threat, the fact that police have markedly increased their presence at Springfield Town Center tells him this information is being taken very seriously.

Garrett adds, “If this is a non-specific threat, they clearly are going to have to use the blanket approach to all the logical places where somebody could launch an attack or some sort of violent event at a mall or shopping center.”

The hope is that this show of force by police at Springfield’s Mall, at other shopping centers, along with increased police presence at transit hubs and major thoroughfares, will deter violence from happening in the first place.

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