(NY Daily News) At least five people were killed after a gunman opened fire inside a Washington shopping mall Friday evening, sending panicked shoppers running for their lives, cops said.
Reports of an armed man at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, some 65 miles north of Seattle, first came in around 7 p.m. local time, a police spokeswoman told the Daily News.
The gunman allegedly walked into the women’s section of the mall’s Macy’s store and opened fire, killing four women and critically wounding one male. The injured male later died at the hospital.
A motive for the shooting was not immediately known.
“We believe just one shooter … Armed with rifle,” Francis captioned a photo of the suspected gunman.
Directly after the shooting rampage, the man was spotted running south towards a major highway. He hasn’t been seen since, according to police.
Tari Caswell was in a Macy’s dressing room when she heard “what sounded like four balloons popping.”
“Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn’t feel right,” Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald. “And it got very quiet. And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store.”
Stephanie Bose, a manager at an Italian restaurant near Macy’s, said she immediately locked all the doors after a co-worker’s boyfriend alerted her to the shooting.
“He was trying to go to the mall and people were screaming,” she said. “It was frantic.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took to Twitter early Saturday to offer his condolences and prayers.
“Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight,” Inslee said. “Our hearts are in Burlington where a shooter has taken the lives of at least four people.”
EMS personnel were entering the mall just before midnight. It was not immediately clear how many people were injured in the mayhem, officials said.
Stunned shoppers and employees were bused to a nearby church to reunite with family.
Police urged the public to stay away from the area as FBI agents from Seattle joined local officers in a manhunt that stretched into the pre-dawn hours.
“We’re doing everything we can to find this person. Stay vigilant. If you see something, just like they say, say something,” Sgt. Francis said at a news conference.
As cops flooded the area, the Cascade Mall announced over Twitter it would stay closed Saturday “out of respect for the victims of this tragic event.”
With News Wire Services