Update: The death toll rises to five, manhunt underway.
Washington: A gunman opened fire in a crowded mall north of Seattle, killing three people and critically wounding another before fleeing Friday night, authorities said.
The deadly shooting happened in the Macy’s store at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Seattle.
Tari Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald she was in the Macy’s women’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. 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,” Caswell told the newspaper.
Another witness, Stephanie Bose, an assistant general manager at Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant near the Macy’s store at the mall, said she immediately locked the doors to the restaurant after hearing about the shooting from an employee’s boyfriend. “He was trying to go to the mall and people were screaming,” she said. “It was frantic.” She said he could see police at the doors with assault rifles and said they were no longer guarding the doors as of 9:30 pm.
Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt Mark Francis said police were searching for a Hispanic man wearing black and armed with a rifle who was last seen walking toward Interstate 5. “We are still actively looking for the shooter. Stay indoors, stay secure,” Francis said at a news conference.
Authorities say the motive was unknown.
Francis said three females were killed, one male suffered life-threatening injuries and another female suffered non-life threatening injuries. Authorities had previously said four people were killed, but updated the number of fatalities after they were able to secure the scene.
Francis said at about 8:30 pm that the mall had been evacuated and emergency medical personnel were cleared to enter. Governor Jay Inslee said tragedy had struck the state.
“We urge residents to heed all safety and detour warnings. Stay close to your friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect’s capture,” Inslee said in a statement.
The Cascade Mall is an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1990, according to the mall’s website. It features JC Penney, TJ Maxx, and Macy’s stores, among other stores, restaurants and a movie theater.
On September 17 a man stabbed 10 people at a Minnesota mall before being shot and killed by an off-duty police officer. Authorities say Dahir Ahmed Adan, 20, stabbed the people at the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.