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Owings Mills Mall: The gunshot that killed Christina Marie Brown

Nikola Petrovski

It was a day of festivity. The people of Owings Mills received their shopping mall. With the sound of a breaking champagne bottle and joy upon the faces of both the shoppers and owners, the Owings Mills Mall was ready for its first shopping spree. The year was 1986 and for many business owners that meant a lot of work.

Completely empty. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Completely empty. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The owner was Kimco Realty and the location they decided to go with was logically enough not an accident. It was an affluent neighborhood still in its embryonic state, but an early entrance meant figuratively speaking scraping off a lot of cream, for this place was promising a lot.

The famous stair railings. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The famous stair railings. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

It was a busy place, for it was easily accessible from the nearby subway station. To make the mall even more accessible, there was a bus that offered its services from the metro to the mall. With time the shuttle bus service was closed, leaving potential shoppers with the option of using the less regular normal bus service, or walking the path from the Owings Mills Metro Subway Station.

The second floor. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The second floor. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

But the mall nevertheless remained a favorite place to many. Once inside, the shopaholics and those looking just to spend an hour or two were stunned by both the size and luxury. Among the most notable tenants were Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Benetton, Williams Sonoma, and various other brands that attracted people from all over Maryland.

The dark and sad atmosphere. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The dark and sad atmosphere. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

With time the mall started to lose acceleration as its ‘foot’ was slipping off the pedal. Some of the malls located in close proximity to Owings Mills were already knee deep into renovation and people could hardly wait to the see them open and what they had to offer.

View from the second floor. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

View from the second floor. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The increase in crime in the area coupled with a change in the economic stability of many residents in the local area meant less business for the Owings Mills Mall store owners.

View inside the abandoned mall alternative view. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

View inside the abandoned mall alternative view. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Another factor in the never-ending race for profit is the competitors. It was Nordstrom, a luxury department store that was the tiny stone that started an avalanche down the hill of financial disaster. Direct competition for customers also came from the nearby Mall in Columbia and Towson Town Center shopping malls.

Look inside the abandoned mall. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Look inside the abandoned mall. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

And so Owings Mills Mall took one more breath and decided to go all out to beat them all. At first, it opened Owings Mills Restaurant Park. Next on the list was a movie theater which later it became known as AMC Theatres.

It wasn’t long before this mall ran into another series of problems. It was 1992, September the 25th when it happened. A dead body was found on the path that led from the metro station to the mall. It belonged to Christina Marie Brown, a 28-year old girl who was shot in the back of the head from a close proximity. Later the police found out that the motivation was robbery and Christina was robbed clean.

No more shoppers. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

No more shoppers. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

Reasonably enough, the path was closed and at a later date entirely removed. The girl worked as part of the cleaning crew of the luxury retailer Saks. After the murder, Saks decided that it would be best if they close their store at this mall. Many people feared for their safety following Brown’s murder and stayed away from Owings Mills.

The empty stores. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

The empty stores. Author: Mike Kalasnik CC BY-SA 2.0

It wasn’t long before the rest of the stores followed in Saks’s footsteps. In the following years, the mall went from bad to worse quicker than ever before. And then the news came. It’s demolition was announced in 2013, but it was postponed and instead started in 2016.  One year later, nothing remains from this mall except the memories, both good and bad, to speak of times equally joyful and fearful.