A Nebraska man sparked backlash after a parent posted a picture of his costume in a Facebook group.
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According to KETV, the ordeal began when Hugo Mendoza wore a black, hooded robe while holding a duffel bag and a toy gun — the orange cap indicating that it was fake was missing — while attending the Monster Mash Bash with his girlfriend and daughters at Oak View Mall in Omaha. Desirae Anson, who was attending the event with her children, recalled that family members told her “You know, we should probably go,” believing that a shooting was about to take place. A picture Anson later posted of Mendoza in a Facebook group received about 800 reactions and 500 comments.
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Mendoza defended himself to KMTV, saying he was simply wearing a costume inspired by “The Town,” a 2010 movie starring Ben Affleck which depicted bank robbers.
"I mean, if it was something bad, why would they sell it? 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," he said.
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Anson held her ground, saying that she couldn’t tell if the gun was real or fake. Others in attendance, including Amber Hall, also voiced discomfort as the scene reminded them of the Van Maur shooting, which occurred at Westroads Mall in 2007.
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“In 2007, I was going through the Omaha Police Department recruit academy and, as part of that, we watched the mall, the Von Maur shooting,” Hall recalled. “The videos, the radio calls, since then even now, that’s all that’s ringing through my head.”
Oak View Mall and Westroads Mall owner GGP has since said that it did “not allow any form of mask, prop or costume deemed inappropriate or offensive.” The Omaha World-Herald attempted to contact mall security about the incident, but the person who answered the phone could not comment.