WALLKILL, N.Y Nov 28 2017Two people were injured, and shoppers were evacuated from a bustling mall in Orange County, New York Sunday afternoon, after police said a shot was fired into the floor.
New York State Police say they received a report of possible shots fired at the Galleria at Crystal Run in Wallkill just after 3 p.m.
“We just saw everybody screaming, coming out, ‘Shots are heard! Shots arte heard! You need to run to the parking lot!’” said mall worker Ali Naveed.
Wallkill police said a shot was fired on the second floor of the mall just outside an American Eagle Outfitters store. Two people suffered minor injuries, possibly from bullet fragments hitting their legs, Wallkill police told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.
The victims were identified as a 49-year-old woman from Goshen and her 12-year-old son, Wallkill police said.
“It appears that a male who was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and gray pants discharged one round from a handgun into the floor,” said Wallkill Town police Chief Robert Hertman.
Wallkill police said it was not clear whether the shot was accidental or deliberate, but the gun was pointing down at the floor when it was fired.
“The suspect who discharged the weapon had the gun apparently pointed at the ground when he discharged a round,” Hertman said. “It’s uncertain what his intent was.”
Heavily-armed police moved in on the second floor just after the gunfire erupted.
Thousands of shoppers had to be evacuated, and the mall had to be put on lockdown, while state and local police – along with the FBI – joined the search for the man with the gun.
“It sounded like something dropped; like a chair or something just dropped on the floor,” said mall worker Grismaylin Almanzar. “That’s what it sounded like. There was only one shot.”
Almanzar works at the Macy’s store in the mall. At first, she said she hid inside the store, and then she took video on her cellphone while people were trying to help panicked shoppers scramble to safety.
“It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving. Everybody’s Christmas shopping. It was scary,” Almanzar said. “Everybody was panicked. Everybody was running, and with everything that’s going on, I don’t blame them.”
Witness Leighton Peterson tells The Associated Press he was grabbing a bite to eat in the mall’s food court when he heard alarms and employees telling everybody to get to the exits.
Video taken inside the mall showed people running toward the exits.
The entire mall was closed and on lockdown following the shooting, mall security said.
Early Sunday evening, police were conducting a second search of the mall, but believed all civilians have evacuated. They said there was no further danger even though they did not have the man who fired the shot in custody.
The man who fired the gun was not believed to be anywhere near the mall, CBS2’s Conybeare reported.
Police late Sunday said upon inspection, they still found some shoppers hiding in fear in locked down stores for several hours.
The two people who were injured were taken at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown and were treated and released, police said.