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(CNN) - Gunfire
erupted in a Columbia, Maryland, shopping mall late Saturday morning, leaving
three people dead and four injured, police said.
Howard County Police
Chief Bill McMahon told reporters that the shooter apparently shot two people
before shooting himself in a store on the second floor. The motive was unclear.
The body of the
suspected shooter was found near a shotgun on the floor of Zumiez, a shop that
caters to skaters, police said.
Police entered the
mall and found three people dead, including one person who was found near a gun
and ammunition. There was no indication of additional shots being fired. The
scene was secure shortly before 1 p.m., police said.
this, on a Saturday afternoon at the mall, how many people may be in there,"
McMahon said at a press conference as mall customers and employees were still
being evacuated. "Something like this happens and people run in many
directions, and they also do what we train them to do -- to shelter in
A federal official
briefed on the shooting told CNN preliminary information indicates the shooting
may have been related to a domestic dispute. A tweet from Howard County police,
however, said investigators could not confirm the shooting was related to a
domestic dispute and they had no information about the suspect being known by
Four people from were
transported to Howard County General Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said in a
statement. They were in good condition. One patient had a shot wound in the
foot, the others suffered injuries after the shooting. McMahon said one person
had a seizure, another a sprained ankle.
Mall employees told
CNN the gunfire erupted near a second-floor food court in the late morning,
sending shoppers and workers running for cover.
"It's a mall
shooting," one mall worker, identified only as K.T., told CNN. "No
one knows what's going on. In today's world, you hear gunshots and you
The staccato of
gunfire was followed by the cries and screams of children and adults running or
ducking for cover, the employee said.
"A lot of kids
were crying, and mothers were holding onto them," K.T. said. "I
wasn't worried about me. I was just making sure everybody was OK."
Once the shooting
stopped, SWAT team members moved from store to store.
"It was just
crazy," said K.T., who snapped a picture of a bullet-riddled wall near the
shooting scene. "It's one of those things you see on TV but never expect
you'll go through."
Colin Ready, another
employee, said he heard a couple of booms and thought the sounds were from
construction. Then, there were several more booms and people were screaming and
scattering, he said.
The manager of the
store where Ready works closed the front gate, he said. When a police officer,
not in uniform, came to the gate later to say the mall had been secured, Ready
said workers didn't believe he was a cop.
another mall employee, told CNN affiliate WJLA that she heard eight to10
"I have never
experienced anything like this in my life," she said. "I was standing
there talking to a customer and I started hearing all this banging coming from
the food court... and people started running and they said somebody's down
there and they got a gun."
Near tears, she added:
"This country needs a lot of help. When somebody is that angry to go to a
mall on a Saturday morning and shoot people. We're in a lot of trouble... To
push people to those limits where things like that happen makes no sense."
reported that an active shooter was on the second floor of the mall in Howard
County, according to CNN affiliate WBAL. Local scanner reports had authorities
requesting multiple mass casualty units.
But one of the bodies
believed to be the shooter was located near a gun and ammunition, police said.
The identification of the person was unknown.
"We are very
confident that it was a single shooter," McMahon said.
While McMahon spoke to
reporters about two hours after the shooting, he said, SWAT teams and officers
from various jurisdictions were still going store-to-store and evacuating
people people who had taken shelter.
A 911 call about shots
fired at the mall was made at 11:15 a.m., police said.
Images on Twitter
reportedly from the scene showed mall employees and customers hiding in a stock
room. The mall was on lockdown for some time.
The fire department,
via Twitter, advised people to avoid the area.
Saturday, January 25 2014, 03:03 PM CST
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