Man in costume with toy long gun at Omaha malls responds to criticism

Posted at 7:35 PM, Oct 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-29 01:35:23-04

A man who wore a costume with a mask, duffel bag and toy long gun says he didn't mean to scare anyone at the children's events he attended at two Omaha malls.

Security officers were alerted to the costume Friday night at Oak View Mall during the Monster Mash Bash. Omaha police were then called and determined there was not a threat.

Other people say they saw the man at Westroads Mall and were uncomfortable.

Hugo Mendoza says he modeled his Halloween costume after the 2010 movie, "The Town," staring Ben Affleck. He says he didn't mean to scare anyone and was surprised to find the picture went viral.

"It's a costume," Mendoza said. "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."

Desirae Anson said her night at Oak View Mall with her family was cut short when Mendoza's costume made her uncomfortable.

"Myself, I know nothing about guns," Anson said. "I don't know what real guns look like. And all I know is that the orange tip and it wasn't orange. So I was just like okay he has a duffel bag. Lets get out."

Mendoza said his toy gun was purchased at a local costume store. And while it wasn't visible from all angles, it did have an orange tip.

Amber Hall said seeing his costume at Westroads Mall brought back memories from a decade ago.

"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 said. "The videos, the radio calls, since then even now, that's all that's ringing through my head."

Hall said she wished she would have said something to Mendoza when she saw him.

"He also had this duffel bag," Hall said. "I mean, if he would have set it down, that would even have been suspicious too you know?"

GGP, who owns both Westroads and Oak View malls, issued the following statement: "Oak View Mall does not allow any form of mask, prop or costume deemed inappropriate or offensive."