A teenager has been killed in a shooting at America’s largest mall in Minnesota that sent frightened shoppers on a run just before the holiday weekend, police said.
Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges said the victim was a 19-year-old man. A bystander’s jacket was also grazed by a bullet during the shooting at the Mall of America’s Nordstrom store on Friday.
There appears to have been an altercation between two groups and at one point someone pulled out a gun and shot the victim multiple times, Hodges said. The whole incident lasted about 30 seconds.
Hodges urged the shooter and others involved in the fight to turn themselves in to police. He also warned people against helping suspects avoid arrest.
“If somebody helps these people – I mean as much as buying them a Happy Meal, giving them a ride – we’re going to lock you up with them,” he said.
The mall was due to reopen on Saturday but the Nordstrom store would remain closed, he said.
The Bloomington Police Department responded to the shooting shortly before 8 p.m., the mall said in a statement.
The lockdown lasted around an hour before the mall tweeted that shoppers were being sent outside. Emergency vehicles had converged in the snowy parking lot and police could be seen installing yellow crime scene tape near the Nordstrom store.
Videos posted on social media show shoppers hiding in stores, and an announcement in the mall warned people to take cover. Some videos show shoppers running for cover after hearing a loud bang.
The reported shooting comes as malls and malls across the United States see an influx of shoppers days before Christmas.
Jenny Hefty of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and her 16-year-old daughter had just come down the escalator to the second floor of the mall, in front of the Nordstrom store, when people started running towards them and screaming. His daughter thought he heard gunshots, unlike Hefty.
“At first we thought they were just messing around,” she said Friday night. “It was like ‘why are all these kids running next to us?'”
Retailers began closing and her husband told them to run as armed guards rushed to Nordstrom, where Hefty had tried perfume about 20 minutes earlier.
The trio raced to their hotel in the mall complex and frantically tried to reach the couple’s 18-year-old daughter, 21-year-old son and their friends on their cellphones. They had been locked in shops or taken to safer places while the mall was closed.
Since its opening in 1992, the mall has been a tourist destination and community gathering place. It prohibits firearms on the premises, but buyers have generally not been required to go through metal detectors. The mall said in October that it was testing a “weapons detection system” at one of its entrances.
The mall was closed in August after a reported shooting at the suburban Minneapolis shopping complex sent shoppers running for cover, and two people were injured last New Year’s Eve during a an apparent altercation.
Representatives for the City of Bloomington and Nordstrom did not immediately respond to requests for comment.