2 men shot dead in the Mall of America; Shopping center closed as police search for suspect – WCCO

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota (WCCO) – New Years Eve shopping inside the Mall of America was interrupted by gunfire on Friday after an indoor shooting injured two men and shoppers crouched in stores as the huge complex was locked for almost an hour.

Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Kim Clauson said the shooting took place around 5 p.m. in the North Zone on Level 3. A mall officer heard gunshots and found a man on the ground with a gunshot wound to the leg. Shortly after, another man was found with a wound that appeared to be a bullet graze.

Police press conference on the Mall of America shooting

The man with the injured leg was taken to Hennepin Healthcare for treatment. He is expected to survive. Police said he was involved in an altercation with the gunman and likely knew him. Investigators don’t think the shooting was random.

The man brushed against was a spectator. The paramedics treated him on the spot; he did not need to be hospitalized.

Police are still looking for the gunman, who fled the mall. According to Clauson, investigators will examine the numerous images from security cameras inside the building to identify the shooter and find him.

When asked at a press conference how the gunman brought a gun into the building, Clauson said that although the mall bans guns on the premises, there are no searches. no metal detectors at the doors.

The shooting resulted in a lockdown of the entire building which lasted for about 45 minutes. Videos posted on social media showed people running and screaming from the mall. Many shoppers rushed to find shelter inside the stores until the green light was given.

Richfield, Eagan and Burnsville police responded during the lockdown, as did Minnesota State Patrol and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Harlie Vaughn was visiting the Iowa Mall and separated from her parents. She was inside Barnes & Noble when the lockdown was initiated. She said no one knew what was going on and the uncertainty made some panic.

“I almost thought one of them was going to have an anxiety attack,” she said.

Jessica Lopez, of St. Paul, said she passed the lockdown at Hollister with a group of friends who were visiting the mall for the first time.

“When [the workers] told us to go to the back, we thought it was like training, ”she said, adding that she later heard that there had been a shooting on the third floor. “I was worried about my little sister, so I called my dad, who told me it was on the news. So I was like, OK, this is something serious.

Lopez and two other friends said store workers and other shoppers were generally quiet during the lockdown, taking videos and watching updates on their phones.

Cousins ​​Kristina Charter, 12, and Kira Alexander-Jackson, 13, were visiting from Chicago to celebrate Kira’s birthday. The teenagers were separated from their uncle and father during confinement but displayed remarkable composure.

“We got out and it was on the intercom, ‘If you’re not in a safe place, find one. Seek shelter, ”Charter said. “I wasn’t really scared, because I thought about that random moment in my life, just like, ‘I wonder what would happen? So I wasn’t really scared, I was trying to keep my cool.

The two rushed to a nearby shoe store for safety. Kira’s father and Kristina’s uncle Joey Jackson were at IKEA across the street when he received a panicked call from his daughter informing him that there had been a shooting. He went to the mall to get them to safety.

“It’s my daughter’s birthday and then Christmas, so we just stepped out for the final shopping days of 2021 and unfortunately that happened,” he said.

Shortly after the lockdown was lifted, the mall closed at 6 p.m. and canceled its New Year’s celebration. Those who had tickets to the event were refunded. Mall officials said the building would reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday with increased security.

In a tweet, mall management thanked buyers and tenants for their swift response to the lockdown.

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