“I couldn’t sleep”: Employees return to Northlake Mall after shooting

Despite having an option, all stores chose to reopen for business on Friday.
Northlake Mall reopened Friday morning, less than 24 hours after two people were injured in a shooting.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 10:36 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Less than 24 hours after a shooting injured two at Northlake Mall, business resumed as normal.

But for the workers that returned Friday, things felt anything but normal.

The mall reopened to shoppers Friday morning, with every store choosing to open back up for business, meaning some employees who were working when shots rang out, had to return.

Many workers couldn’t give on-camera interviews because of restrictions from the companies they work for, but the consensus given off-camera was that many were still shaken up and found it difficult to go back to work.

One employee said that anytime she heard a loud noise outside her store, her heart jumped, thinking it could be another shooting taking place.

Valentina Espinosa said she had a difficult time forgetting the 45 minutes spent hiding in the back storeroom with other shoppers.

“I had a panic attack,” Espinosa said. “I was crying and everyone was like crazy.”

She said that panic attack came from a familiar place. Espinosa said she was also working at the Ventura Mall in Miami in May 2021 when another shooting took place.

In both instances, she returned to work the next day. But doing so for a second time didn’t make Friday any easier at Northlake.

“I didn’t even sleep last night. And I got here at like 3 p.m.,” Espinosa said. “I didn’t want to come. I didn’t, I really was like overwhelmed and I had a headache, I was feeling very bad.”

Northlake Mall said it would provide extra security and counselors to help employees and shoppers feel safe and cared for as they deal with the trauma and anxiety of Thursday’s events.

Related: 2 adults, 1 juvenile charged in connection with Northlake Mall shooting