ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – It was a week ago when an Arlington police officer was forced to open fire on a suspect who pulled out a fake gun in a crowded mall. That officer is part of a specialized unit to keep shoppers safe.
When William Paul Dodd, a convicted felon and known offender, pulled out a replica handgun and was shot by an officer inside The Parks Mall in Arlington, chaos erupted.
“The first thing I heard was the shaking of the building that was caused by all the people rushing out of the mall,” said Officer Shawn Bunster.
Customers described a confusing scene when shots rang out. Officers Bunster and Joe Adkins took quick action.
“A lot of people were coming over to our office just to seek shelter and seek aid,” said Officer Bunster.
The two officers are on the Arlington Police Department’s south retail district unit. “This is our sole responsibility. These businesses,” said Officer Adkins.
Seven days a week and year-round, they patrol The Parks Mall, Arlington Highlands and other area businesses, checking for suspicious vehicles and people and keeping shoppers safe.
“Whether it be in a patrol car, by a bike unit, foot patrol, cover unit… we have a wide array of tools,” said Officer Bunster.
One couple was headed to The Parks Mall when they heard about the shooting and decided not to go.
“Arlington’s getting so big. Things are happening like that. You want to make sure you do feel safe. Seeing them there helps out a lot,” said Raquel Diaz.
The unit is made up of one sergeant and seven officers.
Officer Bunster said while they don’t get as many calls for service, it allows them to be more proactive, checking for suspicious people and focusing on shopper safety.