When it comes to out-of-control shoppers, most mall security officers are trained not to intervene. One downtown Atlanta mall guard apparently didn't get that message.
Earlier this year, Darien Long became an Internet sensation for what he did to keep the shoppers in his mall safe. Long landed a job as a guard last year at Metro Mall in Atlanta, which is in an area surrounded by government buildings. Although the mall should be packed with shoppers, rampant crime in the neighborhood has driven them away.
"When I first got there, it was damn near [an] open air drug market," Long told ABC News' "20/20." "That's how easy I could spot people doing things. It was just ridiculous."
Long said he spent much of his time in the mall keeping the peace, breaking up fights or intervening in customer disputes, ready to defend himself with his own arsenal of weapons and gadgets.
He carried a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter, a 16-inch ASP baton, a Taser X3 and even wore a tactical vest with a GoPro camera on it, which Long said was "probably the most valuable tool in the arsenal."
Long's GoPro camera captured his now famous videos of him on the job clearing out illegal activity in the mall. When confrontations escalated or he found himself surrounded by a hostile crowd, Long often relied on his Taser, shown in many of the videos he took and shared.
"Yeah … sometimes I just took it to that level," Long said. "This is a very aggressive culture down there. You show any weakness, man, these people will walk all over you."
In one video, when he failed to pacify a crowd with his Taser, Long pulled out his gun, a move he defends.
"When they started to advance towards me ... the firearm had to come out. After the Taser, there's nothing but bullets."
Long shared his video clips of his exploits with business owners and residents in the community who were long frustrated by the city's neglect of the area.
"Somebody was taking ownership, responsibility and trying to do something about the area and clean it up," Stuart Jackson, a neighborhood resident, told "20/20."
"You have to have courageous people like him, you know, step out and do these things," Dora Din-DuRant, a marketing director for a building in the area, told "20/20."
But one confrontation caught on camera carried Long's reputation far beyond Georgia. In the clip, two women turned on him after he told their children to quiet down. Long calmly retreated back inside the mall, but one of the women continued to rain down blows and spit in his face. Having had enough, Long used his Taser on the woman.
"After I took so much abuse ... I'm tired of that. I'm not trying to hear this no more," Long recalled.
The mother-Tasering clip eventually landed on YouTube and went viral, launching Long into Internet fame. One website even dubbed him the "Kick Ass Mall Cop."
"It wasn't about being the biggest bad ass on the block," Long said of the nickname. "I'm the softest guy there. I'm the weakest guy there. I'm just the guy with the most freaking commitment."
That commitment would cost him. This March, the Metro Mall fired Long, blaming it on a slowdown in business. Later that week, as he was finishing up his stint at the mall, Long tried to tackle a man he said he had ordered off the premises earlier. Police ended up taking Long away in cuffs and charged him with battery.
Since Long left, drug dealers and loiterers have returned to the mall. With the pending charge, Long can't get work as a security guard, but he said he has no regrets.
"It was a job, and I'm going to do the job," Long said.
"I mean, I tried to do what was right."