Deputy recounts mall shooting; controversy brewing in OK County

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Shots rang out over the weekend at Penn Square Mall for the second time in less than a month.

We are learning more about the chaos that night around the mall theater as 9-1-1 calls and an off duty sheriff's deputy  shed more light on the panic.

But that night is also opening up a brewing controversy between the Oklahoma County Sherriff's Office and a County Commissioner.

A uniformed off-duty sheriff's deputy who was working security described the melee outside the mall theater.

"It was chaos for sure. Your adrenaline gets running," said Lt. Justin Kimbrough.

Calls to 9-1-1 reveal the panic echoing across Penn Square Mall after the shots rang out.

"Shots again, at least five shots," said a caller.

Another person said, "I can't move right now, I'm shaking."

Police reports say a man working for mall security saw an "unknown suspect and the intended victim arguing" in the mall in front the movie theater.  That's when Lt. Kimbrough was alerted inside the theater.

"As I step towards the door, I hear three or four gun shots. I draw my weapon and step into the hall. The bulk of the people are running towards JCPenney's," Kimbrough said.

Someone pointed out the suspect to Kimbrough.

"Once I saw the guy and they said he was the shooter, my job was to attempt to stop him or at least give information about where he went," Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough says he chased a man in a  black hoodie with white patches down the escalator and out the exit on the mall's southeast corner.

No one was hurt in the shooting, the second in a month at the mall.

News 4 made numerous calls to mall staff to ask about what is being done about mall safety in light of the recent shootings, but those calls were not returned.

Oklahoma City police have been called to Penn Square Mall 187 times in the last six months for everything from lost children and shoplifing to auto theft and assault, police records show.

Kimbrough, a uniformed but off-duty sheriff's deputy working security for the theater, said his presence is important.

"The uniform, to me, is a huge deterrent," Kimbrough said.

But County Commissioner Kevin Calvey is calling into question deputies using county property on off-duty jobs.

"He's saying we can't wear our uniform, can't carry the gun, can't use vehicles. He is out of touch with reality and he is certainly soft on crime," Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor said.

Calvey sent News 4 the following statement:

"Thank you to Lt. Kimbrough for his great work at Penn Square Mall the other day.  I support the work our deputies do on a daily basis keeping our citizens safe. I also support these fine deputies having second jobs doing private security.  Unfortunately, Sheriff Taylor is again spreading misinformation, this time, about a proposed County property policy.  The policy does NOT impact the ability of Sheriff employees to have private security jobs.  The policy simply provides needed accountability and transparency over the use of taxpayer-funded County property for private jobs.  For instance, the policy will help ensure that taxpayers are not liable if the use of a car or other taxpayer-funded property causes damage to others, when such property is used for private jobs.  This type of policy is routine in other jurisdictions, such as those below:

Payne County, OK – 'No County official or employee may use County property for his or her own personal use.'

Rogers County, OK – 'No County official or employee may use County property for his or her own personal use or for another use not required by or consistent with or in connection with their duties with Rogers County.'

Moore, OK – 'Employees shall not use city equipment and shall not permit others to use city equipment for non-city activities.'

Ardmore, OK'Personal use of any City property, materials, supplies, tools, equipment or vehicles will not be permitted without prior permission. City vehicles will be operated at all times in conformity with state and local laws affecting their usage. However, the City retains the right to place more restrictive rules and regulations than that required by  law.'

But Taylor said people want to see those badges, uniforms and vehicles in public. He said people see them as a deterrent to crime.

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