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Could Palm Beach Gardens police have released details on mall shooting earlier?

Police seek 2 persons of interest in case
Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 18:52:31-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — WPTV is looking into the apparent slow release of critical information to warn and reassure people following Wednesday's shooting at the Gardens Mall.

A day after the shooting, investigators said in a statement that they were looking for two men they described as persons of interest in the case.

Police said the shooting took place at 2:36 p.m., but the city didn't release details of the shooting to the public or on social media for more than an hour.

Crisis management expert Sara Brady said police agencies should release important information as soon as possible.

Crisis management expert Sara Brady outlines the importance of police sharing critical information with the public.
Crisis management expert Sara Brady outlines the importance of police sharing critical information with the public.

"Just letting people know that police are responding, that the scene is active, and to stay away," Brady said.

But those with loved ones working or shopping in the mall fought the traffic and navigated around the roadblocks.

"I got a call, a full-panic call from my daughter," a concerned mother told WPTV on Wednesday. "I couldn't get here fast enough."

Information critical to the public seemed slow to come by.

Police announced they would hold a news conference Wednesday where urgent details might be disseminated to the public.

NewsChannel 5 was told by law enforcement to come to a location as a staging area for the media and to expect an update in person. Unfortunately, that never happened.

police and deputies outside P.F. Chang's at Gardens Mall, Feb. 14, 2024
A view from Chopper 5 shows police officers and deputies standing behind police tape near the P.F. Chang's at the Gardens Mall, Feb. 14, 2024, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

WPTV investigation reporter Dave Bohman went to the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department and City Hall on Thursday to ask about the release of information about the shooting, but public information officers were not available.

WPTV also called the public information officers for the city and police department, Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Chelsea Reed and four city council members.

One city council member answered WPTV's call. She told us to call Reed, who then texted Bohman to call the city public information officer Candice Temple.

However, WPTV received no response about the flow of information regarding the mall shooting.

"The best way to protect what people know about an event," Brady said, "is to have that information out immediately."

Brady noted that police agencies have the motto, "To Protect and Serve," and said they can only serve if they give the public critical information in a timely fashion.

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