TACOMA, Wash. (AP) – A gunman opened fire inside a busy shopping mall yesterday and was believed to have taken two or three people hostage inside a music store, authorities said.
At least six people were injured, one critically, as shoppers and store clerks scrambled for cover.
“We’re being held hostage,” an employee who answered the phone at the Sam Goody store in Tacoma Mall said, identifying himself as Joe Hudson. He said little else but could be heard telling others that he was talking to The Associated Press. Then he hung up.
Tacoma Police spokesman Mark Fulghum told Northwest Cable News that officers were trying to make contact with the suspect, who was believed to have two to three hostages.
Stacy Wilson, 29, of Bonney Lake, said she was walking from J.C. Penney when she heard a popping noise and turned around.
“I saw the gunman randomly shooting. I ran with a group of women to Victoria’s Secret,” Wilson said. She said they crouched behind a wall in the store, and when the shooting stopped, an employee ran out and closed a security gate at the front.
Wilson said she heard 15 to 20 shots.
“He was walking backward and shooting. I couldn’t see his face,” she said. “Everyone was running and screaming.”
Authorities got a call about 12:15 p.m. that shots had been fired inside the mall, Tacoma Fire Department Deputy Chief John Lendosky told CNN. State Patrol and police units from nearby agencies were clustered around an entrance at the south end of Tacoma Mall.
Betz Dejarnatt, who works at the J.C. Penney store, said she heard three shots. She said some of the workers were herded into dressing rooms and offices, then police took them outside to a parking lot.
Six people were taken to hospitals, most with minor injuries, Lendosky said. He couldn’t confirm whether any of them had been shot. One person was in critical condition at Tacoma General Hospital, spokesman Todd Kelley said.