South Carolina: A 22-year-old man has been detained in connection with a shooting that injured 14 people at a crowded shopping mall in the state capital on Saturday.
One of three people initially held by law enforcement as a person of interest remains in police custody and is expected to be prosecuted with unauthorized carrying of a weapon, according to Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook. It’s unclear whether the suspect has retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“We don’t think this happened by chance,” Holbrook added. “We believe they knew each other and that the gunshot was caused by something.”
There were no fatalities recorded, but eight patients were brought to the hospital, according to authorities. Two of the eight were in critical condition, while the other six were in stable condition, according to Holbrook. According to him, the victims ranged in age from 15 to 73 years old.
Daniel Johnson, who was visiting from Alabama, said he and his family were eating in the food court when they heard gunshots and saw people fleeing.
People were shouting for their children and wives, according to Johnson, and fleeing by knocking over tables in the food court.
“Everyone was frantically trying to get outdoors,” Johnson explained. “You could see baby carriages tipped over, people’s phones, and dropped keys as I was walking out.” It was a bit of a tumultuous affair.”
After allowing the gathering to disperse, Johnson claimed he gathered his wife, daughter, and son and began walking toward the exit.
“The most important thing for me was to make sure that our family was okay and to get them out safely because this is not something we enjoy doing on Easter weekend.”
Hours after the shooting, a heavy police presence remained in the area, however authorities began allowing more traffic to pass through the streets around the shopping complexes and strip malls, which are usually busy on weekends. Officers were also stationed outside a nearby hotel that had been designated as a reunification spot for victims and their relatives.
Workers from a few stores remained huddled in the mostly empty parking lot Saturday evening, waiting for authorities to let them back inside so they could get their car keys and personal things before leaving. They claimed they didn’t hear or see anything during the shooting, but that they followed the mall’s alarm system and were quickly evacuated by police. They refused to reveal their identities, citing business policy.
In a statement, Columbiana Center said, “Today’s solitary, senseless act of violence is terribly upsetting, and our thoughts are with everyone involved.” “We appreciate our security team’s prompt response and continuous support, as well as our law enforcement partners.”
This is the latest in a string of shootings that have occurred at or near malls throughout the country.
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head outside the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn on Wednesday. His wounds did not appear to be life-threatening. He was with a group of boys when they got into a fight with another group, according to officials.
According to police, a shoe store owner in Southern California accidentally shot a 9-year-old child while firing at two shoplifters at the Mall of Victor Valley on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, six people were killed and 12 others were injured in a shooting between rival gangs in Sacramento, California, after bars closed in a bustling neighborhood near the Downtown Commons shopping mall and the state Capitol.