Shoppers return to Oakwood undeterred by shooting

Shoppers return to Oakwood undeterred by shooting

GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Ashley Hall had never been to Oakwood Center before, but decided to do some after-Christmas shopping.

"It was nice, actually. There was a lot of shoppers," she says. "Nobody really seems to be worried about it or nothing. Lots of deals going on, so get your shopping done now."

The mall reopened Friday at 9 a.m. with many stores offering deep end-of-year discounts. One store remained closed - the Foot Locker where 24-year-old James Vaughn was shot and killed on Christmas Eve.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's investigators say the shooting was an isolated incident. They say 25-year old Gary Francois targeted Vaughn.

Shoppers say the killing had them concerned but wouldn't keep them away.

"Anything can happen at any time, you've just got to be on your guard," one man told us.

"I don't think lightning will strike in the same place twice - at least I hope not," said another shopper "I try not to think about it. You can't think about that and let that stop you from doing what you want to do. Then there'll be no living at all."

Dr. Peter Scharf, a criminologist with LSU Health, says there's almost no way to prevent a shooting like the one at the mall.

"Is it an argument for more security guards or do you need to get wanded before you go buy tennis shoes?" asks Scharf. "I don't think that's the solution, and we've just got to face where we're at. We have kids who've grown up to be assassins."

Investigators have not released a motive in the shooting but say both Francois and Vaughn, from different areas of the West Bank, had long criminal histories.

Francois now faces a second-degree murder charge. He's being held in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on $750,000 bond.

"You know, I think psychologically, this lack of fear of consequences, lack of empathy for the shoppers, this is the new normal that we're going to deal with," says Scharf. "We're inheriting problems, you can't blame this one on New Orleans but we've inherited problems in many of these areas and the devil's to pay and we're paying it."

Scharf says it could be the businesses at the mall that pay the most as they work to bring back concerned customers.

Vaughn's friends and family have set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for funeral expenses. To visit click here:

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