Abduction attempt reported at mall

A Columbia Mall employee was the victim of an attempted abduction late last week, according to Katie Essing, senior general manager for the Columbia Mall and Capital Mall security teams.

Late last week, a man attempted to persuade a female Dillard's employee to follow him to his car.

But the individual was deterred when a male Dillard's security guard offered to follow the suspect instead.

Don Edson, a store manager at the Columbia Dillard's department store, denied that any incident occurred.

Essing said only Dillard's private security team handled the incident. But Essing said the mall security has a set protocol for incidents in the general mall area.

"We would work with the Columbia Police immediately, but we wouldn't want to cause panic in the shopping center," Essing said.

Columbia Police Department Sgt. Ken Hammond said that, in a situation in the general mall area, a police patrol officer would respond to the call and collect all the necessary information.

"The officer would then contact the patrol commander or the investigation unit, depending on the circumstances," Hammond said.

But since the incident did not occur in the general mall area, Dillard's private security team was the only responding agency.

In cases involving abductions at the mall, Columbia police officers would be stationed in the surrounding area to help find the suspect.

Hammond said generally, abductions are often civil matters, including child abductions.

No abductions have occurred in Columbia in the past year, Hammond said.

This attempted abduction occurred three months following the abduction of Kelsey Smith, 18, who was abducted from the parking lot of an Overland Park, Kan. shopping mall on June 2.

Smith's abduction was captured on a surveillance tape, and her body was later found in a wooded area in south Kansas City, Mo. near Longview Lake.

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