S.W. Community Reflects on Recent Manchester Mall Shooting



Front Entrance to Buckland Hills Mall.

Katelyn Drenga, Editor

On August 18th, Buckland Hills entailed a major fright after a loss prevention officer was shot in the chest by Windsor man, Richard Laplante.

Shots were reportedly fired in the men’s clothing section of the mall after the 27- year- old officer allegedly caught Laplante stealing. Over half the mall was immediately put into Lockdown following the incident.

Laplant is currently being held at a $1 million bond and appeared at  Hartford court on September 7th. He was charged with criminal attempt/murder, first degree assault, first-degree robbery and carrying a gun with no permit. 

Throughout the past few years, the  Buckland Mall has had a history of fighting and brawls which include incidents from December 2016, December 2018 and 2021. In 2018, four were arrested for fighting. In 202,1 the Buckland Hills movie theater, right across the street, broke out in chaos leading to the arrest of two 17-year -old girls.

 Once these fights and brawls were stopped, nothing much changed aside from a curfew for underage shoppers. So to many, including senior Abby Seabourn, the occurrence of this event was not a surprise.

 After hearing about the event while watching TV, Seabourn explains she, ¨was disturbed by the closeness.¨  ¨I cant say im surprised as gun violence is common in America¨ They add.

Another student, Hailey Campbell who has a job in the Manchester Plaza  explains she, ¨heard about it at work right down the street from the mall.¨

Hailey added that she feels Safegardes have to be enforced. 

This  could start by adding¨more background checks before giving someone a gun as well as giving anyone [you] live with an evaluation¨ she says.

  The idea that Hailey discussed with me is actually strongly related to the political term gun show loophole. This loophole becomes formed when the federal law allows unlicensed private sellers to perform or not perform background checks to there choosing. Because of this it becomes easier to someone without a permit to have access to a gun that they did not purchase. This could be why although Laplant didn´ have a permit he somehow was able to access a gun . 

  Carrying without a permit was not the only problem, even if Laplant was a permit holder he still shouldn’t  have had the gun with him according to the Buckland Mall Code of Conduct.

  In order to, ¨Allow others to shop safely and comfortably Weapons of any type are not permitted on center property.¨ Buckland Mall Code of Conduct.

Most of the time 99.9% of shoppers follow the rules of the Conduct which is why most people don’t think they would ever witness something like this. One of these was a teen who was on the other side of the mall with her friends at the time. 

When speaking with her she explained that; ¨half the stores were closed probably.¨ On the opposite side to where the shooting occured, people were not yet aware. ¨No-one was told anything¨ Cat Maritino says.

  When I addressed shootings in a past article from 2021 the ¨U.S [had] seen a total of 610 mass shootings last year, almost 200 higher than in 2019.¨ These numbers are continuing to rise as the national gun violence archive organization reports.  

For instance there were 95 non-mass and mass shootings on September 7th, 2022. https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting 

 Many of those 95 shootings are not classified as mass shootings and are not being recorded in that number, the buckland mall shooting being one of them.

And, while it is clear this violence outbreak is a problem; there continues to be argument over what is causing the outbreak to become more severe in this decade. 

Jubilee, an interactive Youtube channel which makes various ´middle ground´ videos where people from 2 different sides of a spectrum talk about social issues does a great job gathering views on this issue. The Rising violence in america was discussed by  gun violence victims and NRA members in : {Mass Shooting Survivors vs NRA Members | Middle Ground.}

 In the video NRA memer explains it is hard because, ¨[he] believes we have a mental health problem, if we took all the guns it wouldn´t stop. They could have used a car they could have used a knife they could use a bomb¨ Jaaye adds.  

Many like Jaaye believe that it is not just a re-enforcement of gun restrictions that is needed but reform on access to resources and counseling for people that face delusional or violent thoughts. This also includes more attention  from the general public. More focus from them on signs that someone may want to hurt others. 

Directly after the incident Laplante fled the scene and only turned himself in after security cameras in front of the mall identified his face.  Tirso Polanco became hospitalized and is slowly recovering after severe wounds to his abdomen.