Reported gunshots send shoppers fleeing at Crabtree Valley Mall

Terrified shoppers fled and took cover in stores after they reported hearing gunshots ring out at Crabtree Valley Mall on a busy Saturday afternoon.

The mall was locked down after shots were reportedly fired near the food court about 2:30 p.m., police said.

No one with gunshot wounds had been located, police said, nor had any suspects been arrested.

Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, speaking at a 6 p.m. news conference near the mall, said eight people were transported for treatment of minor injuries suffered in the chaotic rush to leave the building.

Deck-Brown said even though there were a number of 911 calls with reports of multiple gunshots fired, investigators had not found shell casings near the Lush cosmetics store where the shooting reportedly happened.

“We haven’t determined there was a shooter at this point,” she said.

Antonio Richardson, owner of the Casanova clothing store in the mall, told the Associated Press he saw two men arguing in the food court before he heard as many as four shots.

Richardson said he was standing at the entrance to his store when he saw the men, who appeared to be in their early 20s. He said one of them pulled out a gun and began shooting.

Some shoppers described a frenzied scene where people ran through the mall after hearing a loud noise. Many said they were ushered by store employees to back rooms, where they waited for police. Officers then told them to put their hands on their heads and escorted them out of the mall.

Kristen Whitley of Goldsboro was shopping alone at Gap when she heard “what sounded like a gunshot.” Like other shoppers, she retreated to a back room.

An officer with a badge around his neck eventually knocked on the store’s door to get everyone out.

“He said, ‘It’s OK, we’re the good guys,’ ” Whitley said. “It was like out of the movies.”

Kristen Warring of Raleigh said she was shopping with her boyfriend at the GameStop store when they first heard shots.

“We heard at least 10 shots, maybe more. It was loud. We were close,” Warring said. “We got as low as we could, behind a barricade. Saw a lot of people running and pushing to get out. Texted 911 at that point to let them know there were 30 to 40 people – about half were children. ... They said to keep low, said police were on the scene.”

Glenwood Avenue

Some shoppers who were near exits fled the mall, using cellphone video cameras to record other people leaving. Many who left, unable to get to their vehicles, went across Glenwood Avenue to the parking lot of the Marriott hotel.

Glenwood Avenue was closed to traffic in both directions for hours, and the mall remained closed throughout the evening.

At 6 p.m., police began letting people go back to the mall parking lot to retrieve their cars. Some called others to pick them up along Creedmoor Road.

Patty Williams of Laurinburg said she had been waiting about two hours in the Marriott parking lot with her 15-year-old son. They ran out of the mall after hearing “a loud bang.”

Warring said those she took cover with in the mall had to stay in place about 45 minutes.

“Then they let us out,” she said. “On the way out there were bags and shoes and drinks all over the place from people dropping them and running out. I was comforting a lady. It was chaotic and really frightening. I just never imagined I would be in a situation like this.”

Carrie Salisbury of Raleigh was shopping at Gap with her husband and two children, ages 13 and 10, when they heard a loud noise. Salisbury said it sounded like something had been dropped.

“We were just in shock,” Salisbury said. “All of the staff were calm, which helped us be calm.”

At the PacSun clothing store, employee Daesha Payne said she “saw a whole bunch of people running.”

Employees and shoppers headed into the stockroom in the back of the store. Aliza Wilson, who also works at the store, said a manager put down the night gate in the front of the store. A family outside the gate sought entrance, so the manager rushed to open it and let them in before closing it again, Wilson said.

Some of the 30 or 40 people in the stockroom went out the back door, which opens into a hallway behind businesses that is used for deliveries. One end of the hallway opens onto the food court, but those who went that way came back, telling others, “No, no, go the other way,” Payne said.

Amy Cooper of Raleigh was shopping at Victoria’s Secret with her sister when the commotion began. Customers started to jump over the counter to find a safe place, she said.

“At first we were calm, because we were shocked,” Cooper said. “But when everyone was trying to hide, it was scary.”

Michelle Thompson of Smithfield was in the Hallmark store when she heard a loud noise, then people screaming. She and others took cover in the back of the store until the police arrived.

“This doesn’t happen where you live – and then the next thing you know it’s in your backyard,” Thompson said.

Staff writers Jonathan M. Alexander, Will Doran, Ron Gallagher, John Hansen and Thad Ogburn contributed to this report.

Sarah Nagem: 919-829-4635, @sarah_nagem

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