Three people died when a gunman opened fire inside the Columbia Mall located in Columbia Maryland between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Saturday morning. Police believe that one of the dead was the as yet unidentified shooter who was found near a weapon and ammunition.
Witnesses say that the lone gunman began firing just after 11:00 a.m. using a shotgun although the police have not yet confirmed that it was a shotgun, they say that they are “confident” that the shooter acted alone and are not looking for any other suspects.
In addition to the dead two other people have been transported to hospitals with non life threatening injuries sustained in the chaos which followed the eruption of gunfire.
Police say that the site is now secure but they are requesting that those who took shelter throughout the mall remain in place until they are evacuated. At a press conference Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon told reporters that it was believed that there still are, “many, many people still in the mall.”
No information has been released concerning the victims and McMahon said that he is unsure how many shots were fired but that none were fired by the police.
One witness describing the scene as the shots rang out said that she heard what at first sounded like “something being dropped” from an upper level before she realized that it was gunfire.
“They just kept shooting and it didn’t stop,” she said.
She said that she then grabbed a nearby child and ran for the children’s hair salon where she is employed to ensure the safety of her other young clients.
“I work in Cartoon Cuts; I was downstairs getting a tea for my boss,” she said. “And all of a sudden I heard … it sounded like someone dropped something. And all of a sudden I see people fall, three people fall to the ground. And all I see is people going down to the floor and running.
“I just saw everybody run, so I ran.”
Another young woman who was inside the mall as the shots began said, “We just heard gunshots, and then this lady came into the store and said there’s a guy with a gun … Me and my friend just ran in the back room.”
“We were crying and we were just scared out of our minds, because our thought was that we were going to get shot.”
A man who said that he had been in phone contact with his daughter who was sheltering inside a Bank of America in the mall with dozens of others said that she described a scene of terror and chaos as people waited to be evacuated.
Mall management issued a statement saying only that the “Mall is closed. Believe that the situation may be over, but the mall is closed.”
Watch a report from NBC 4 Washington in the video below.
h/t: NBC 4