Ten people were shot dead and two others injured in a shooting at a shopping mall in South Carolina’s capital, which authorities do not consider a random attack.
Three people who had firearms were arrested in connection with Saturday afternoon’s shooting at the Columbiana Center, Columbia Police Chief WH (Skip) Holbrook said. At least one of those three people fired a weapon, he said.
“We don’t think it was random,” Holbrook said. “We believe they knew each other and something led to the shootings.”
Authorities said no deaths were reported, but eight of the victims were taken to hospital. Of those eight, two were in critical condition and six were in stable condition, Holbrook said. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 73, he said.
Daniel Johnson said he and his family were from Alabama and were eating in the food court when they first heard gunshots and started seeing people running.
Johnson said people were screaming for their children and spouses, knocking over tables in the food court as they fled.
“Everyone was trying to get out,” Johnson said. “When I was going out, you could see strollers turned over, people’s phones and keys left behind. It was kind of a hectic situation.”
Johnson said he gathered his wife, daughter and son and started heading for the exit after letting the crowd loosen up a bit.
“My biggest thing was – and not to sound selfish – was making sure our family was okay and getting them out safely because that’s not something we like to do for the weekend. Easter.”
Hours after the shooting, workers from a few stores remained huddled in the nearly empty parking lot, waiting for police to let them inside to collect their car keys and belongings so they could leave. They said they didn’t hear or see anything during the shooting, but followed the mall’s alert system and were escorted out by police soon after. They declined to give their names, citing company policies.
“Today’s isolated and senseless act of violence is extremely upsetting and our hearts go out to all those affected,” the Columbiana Center said in a statement. “We are grateful for the quick response and continued support from our security team and law enforcement partners.”
Last shooting in a mall in the United States
The shooting is the latest in a string of shootings at or near malls across the country.
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head on Wednesday outside the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn. His injuries were not believed to be life threatening. The NYPD says he was with a group of boys outside the mall when they got into a fight with a second group of boys.
A Southern California shoe store owner mistakenly shot a nine-year-old girl while shooting two shoplifters at the Victor Valley Mall on Tuesday, police said.
And earlier this month, police said six people were killed and 12 others injured in Sacramento, California, in a shootout between rival gangs as bars closed in a busy neighborhood near the Downtown Mall. Commons and the State Capital.