Families gathered at the Oak View Mall in Omaha, Neb., for the Monster Mash Bash on Oct. 27. It was supposed to be an evening filled with tricks, treats, and even a movie screening for the kids. But at least one family left early after getting spooked by a man’s costume.
The Anson family saw a man clad head-to-toe in black, holding what looked to them like a real gun. The photo has since been making the rounds on social media.
Desirae Anson wasn’t sure what was happening when her family showed her the picture. “My family that was waiting for us said, ‘You know, we should probably go,’ and I was confused,” Anson told KETV in an interview.
“Anything really could have happened,” Anson said. “So, it’s better to be safe than sorry in that kind of situation.”
The mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas earlier this month is still fresh in the minds of many Americans. A total of 58 people were killed and over 500 injured when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the window of his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Hugo Mendoza, the man in the costume that spooked Anson and her family, says he didn’t intend to scare anyone. “I was there to have a good time with my daughters and my girlfriend. I wasn’t there to scare little kids or make people feel uncomfortable,” Mendoza told 3 News Now.
Mendoza was not dressed as a terrorist but as one of the bank robbers from the 2010 crime-thriller The Town, starring Ben Affleck. The toy gun he was carrying did have an orange tip, indicating it wasn’t a real gun, but it wasn’t visible from every angle.
Still, Anson and others were uncomfortable with the costume, especially given it was worn to a children’s event. “It’s just not the time or the place,” Anson said. “Not with everything that’s been going on. Not with a kids’ event.”
Mendoza responded, saying, “I understand where they’re coming from, but at the same time it’s whatever, because, I mean, it’s a costume. They sell it for a reason.”
The Ansons alerted security, who in turn called the Omaha police, who assessed that there was no threat to the public.
GGP, the real estate company that owns the Oak View Mall, says Mendoza was in violation of its code of conduct. “Oak View Mall does not allow any form of mask, prop or costume deemed inappropriate or offensive,” said a GGP representative in a statement.
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