By TRISHA AHMED
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) – Someone fired shots Thursday at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, sending shoppers running for cover, but police said they did not immediately found a victim.
Bloomington police also said they were still looking for a suspect after securing the scene shortly before 6 p.m. They said a lockdown that had forced some shoppers to shelter in place, while others fled, was being lifted, but the mall would not reopen on Thursday.
Video posted to social media showed what appeared to be a man screaming as he walked near the resort’s Nike store, with at least three gunshots apparent.
The mall, which opened in 1992, is the largest in the United States and is a tourist destination and community gathering place.
Video posted online showed shoppers fleeing the indoor amusement park on the ground floor of the giant mall, holding their children’s hands and clutching their bags. Yet another video showed two police officers, one with a rifle, moving through the mall, and people moving quickly away from the mall’s large indoor atrium.
Trent Turner, a clerk at a DSW shoe store one level below the Nike store, said he was near the back when he heard gunshots. “Then I saw everyone rushing backwards,” he said.
A woman tweeted that she was shopping for clothes for high school photos with her 17-year-old daughter when the store manager told them to “back off as far as possible”. The woman said she was in a dressing room with her daughter. Another person posted a video of dozens of people allegedly gathered in the basement as warnings to “please take shelter immediately” repeated over loudspeakers in the mall.
A woman who only gave her name as Tara told The Associated Press that she and a friend were among dozens of people who ran down a hallway to exit the mall.
“We were in the Lululemon store and I just saw people running and he was in the locker room and I started knocking on the door to get him out and he didn’t have a shirt on so we ran out of there,” she said.
The Mall of America prohibits firearms on its premises, according to its website. The mall does not have metal detectors and shoppers are not searched upon entry. It was the scene of a shootout on New Year’s Eve, when two people were injured in an apparent altercation.
Associated Press writers Todd Richmond and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., Dave Kolpack in Fargo, ND, and Scott McFetridge in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed. Trisha Ahmed is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.