Two people were wounded in a shooting just outside a popular Utah mall Sunday where hundreds of scared shoppers hunkered down until police arrived to evacuate the building.
Two people in their early 20s were shot at about 1:30 p.m. near the southeast entrance to the Fashion Place mall in Murray, a suburb south of Salt Lake City, said Murray Police Officer Kenny Bass. The man was in critical condition while the woman was in serious. Both were treated at a hospital.
Police were looking for three people suspected in the shooting, Bass said. He said the shooting may be gang related.
Shoppers were escorted by police out of the mall holding their hands in the air. The mall is a highly visited shopping center in the heart of the Salt Lake City metro area with stores such as Crate and Barrel, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
Bass says no other victims or suspects were found inside the mall.
Al Collins was shopping in Dillard’s with his girlfriend when the fire alarm started blaring and someone on a loudspeaker said to evacuate. He started filming with his phone.
“Right after I started filming, gunshots were right around the corner from me,” he told The Associated Press. He kept filming as they ran out. Gunshots are heard in his video, along with his girlfriend crying.
“I didn’t even really know what was going on. I was pretty sure it was gunshots,” he said. “I felt like we couldn’t run fast enough to get out of there.”
Crate and Barrel employee Danielle Calacino told The Associated Press that she saw people running out of the mall after the alarm blared. She said 10 to 12 employees and around 20 customers hid in the store’s upstairs stockroom. She said police escorted them out after about 40 minutes.
“We were mostly all quiet and in shock,” said Calacino, a 21-year-old student at the University of Utah.
She said she learned there was a shooting from a message on the intercom. Everyone immediately got on their phones, she said, to learn what was happening. Friends were texting to ask if she was OK. Some people were crying.
The Fashion Place mall said in a tweet it was “very saddened by the incident” and grateful for the actions of security and Murray police.
Stella Fonseca, an assistant manager at Claire’s, told The Salt Lake Tribune that she helped barricade a back room with filing cabinets and lockers to hide herself, other employees and four customers,
“There was a sense of panic,” she said.
Rebecca Madsen, who was working at a chocolate kiosk in the mall, told the Deseret News that she was also in the back of Claire’s.
“It’s fight or flight,” Madsen said, wiping away tears. “I just prayed to God and asked for help and protection.”
Associated Press journalists Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report.