Authorities said police were looking for a gunman who shot and killed two teenagers at a northern California shopping mall in the middle of Black Friday, prompting shoppers to flee in search of safety.
Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento evacuated shortly after 6pm. Police spokesman Carl Chan said that when shots were fired near one of the entrances to the mall.
A 19-year-old man was found dead in the mall and a 17-year-old boy was found critically injured in a bank outside the mall. Police told the Sacramento B newspaper that he was taken to hospital and succumbed to his wounds several hours later
Workers at the mall said they heard up to twelve shots.
“I heard two shots go off,” Antoine Martinez said. “I didn’t think of anything.” “More and more just kept running, so everyone started running towards our back room … everyone just started running.”
He said clients and workers were evacuated via corridors and stairs at the back of the mall.
The newspaper reported that the coronavirus pandemic kept crowds lower than usual on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Chan said the shooting appeared to be a targeted and isolated attack, though he did not reveal the gunman’s motives. Police said they were searching for a suspect in his twenties.
Further details about the shooting were not immediately released, but Chan urged people who may have witnessed the shooting to come forward and said that homicide investigators would examine security camera footage of the mall.
He said, “We know the mall has very strong surveillance footage.”
Gun attacks and killings have escalated in California, as well as Los Angeles and other cities. About 40 murders have been reported this year.
“We are deeply concerned about the increase in gun violence in Sacramento and other cities during the pandemic, and we have supported increasing our efforts to reach young people at risk,” Mayor Daryl Steinberg said on Twitter. “A gun is never the answer.”