A 17-year-old boy who might have been involved in a dispute with other teens was stabbed multiple times yesterday in the parking lot at The Mall in Columbia, Howard County police said.
The victim was in critical condition last night at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was taken by state police helicopter, police said.
Officers responded to a 3:55 p.m. call at the mall, off Little Patuxent Parkway, and within two hours they had had detained two male teenagers near the shopping center, a police spokeswoman said.
Police said they think the two were involved in the attack, which might have been sparked by a dispute. They are looking into the relationship between the victim and the two other teens.
The afternoon attack, in a parking lot outside the JC Penney department store, drew the attention of shoppers, mall employees and nearby office workers, who came outside to watch and ask what was happening.
Police cordoned off an entrance to the JC Penney portion of the mall, and onlookers stood on the sidewalk to watch medical crews move the victim.
Because the JC Penney lot was half-full of parked cars, crews took the victim to the helicopter waiting in the parking lot near the Sears entrance.
A spokesman for General Growth Properties Inc., which runs The Mall in Columbia and a chain of malls nationwide, said yesterday's incident will spark a review of the mall's safety measures.
"Upping the amount of security at a property is always an option," said David Keating, director of corporate communications for General Growth, which is based in Chicago. "But that mall is very quiet. It's one of our top malls. I know that customer safety has always been a priority."
Other violent incidents have occurred near the Columbia mall.
Last year, a Howard County man was charged with attempted second-degree murder in a stabbing at a bus stop near the mall. The man was later arrested on charges of marijuana possession inside the mall.
In December 2006, a man attempted to steal a car and abducted a woman at knifepoint. With a knife in his hand, the man ordered the victim out of the car in the mall's parking lot. When she opened the door, he pushed her into the passenger seat and demanded cash, police said. The woman eventually escaped.
About a month before that, the mall's operators activated a new video surveillance system on the 90-acre property, installing tilt-and-zoom cameras throughout the building and in all parking garages and lots.
"The camera systems we have at most of our properties are a great thing to have. It's just one advantage to the public safety program," Keating said.