Several people interviewed around the Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, a major gathering place in Bel Air's retail district that includes three shopping centers and Harford County's only enclosed mall, said they are always prepared for a violent situation and thinks the shootings in Columbia could happen anywhere.
Theresa Brinkerhoff said she is not worried about being at nearby Harford Mall, but a larger place like Towson Town Center "might be a different story."
The Baldwin resident said a friend from Catonsville was worried Saturday that Brinkerhoff might be in Columbia.
"We like to go to Columbia mall and she called to see if I was there," Brinkerhoff said.
Fortunately, she was not.
"I am always aware of my surroundings and I tell my kids to do that," she explained about her approach to shopping safety. "I watch what's going on around me all the time."
Brinkerhoff said she feels safer in Harford County and a smaller town like Bel Air but is also worried about fallout from the Columbia shootings.
"I think people are getting ideas," she said.
Nevertheless, she added, "You can't not go out, you can't not live. You can't just stay in your house and be sheltered," she noted.
Dorian Cast, of Edgewood, said some people might be worried after the Columbia shootings, but he has no problems shopping anywhere.
"Things always happen. There's always incidents," Cast said.
Gordon Scharpf, of Bel Air, said it is easy to get desensitized to all the shootings that keep happening.
"You start to become immune to it, but you pay more attention to your surroundings," he said.
Scharpf isn't worried about going to shopping centers, including Harford Mall.
"I feel safe. What can you do? You can't live in a cocoon the rest of your life," he said.
He also sounded grim about the reality of violence.
"I am not shocked by what happens anymore," he said.
Across Route 1, plenty of security was visible at Harford Mall around noon Monday.