CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — One person was killed after an argument erupted at a crowded shopping mall in North Carolina on the afternoon before Christmas, police said Thursday.
Detectives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are investigating what the department called “an officer involved shooting” inside the Northlake Mall in Charlotte.
Police said in a statement that off-duty officers who were working at the mall arrived at the scene after the fight broke out. One “armed” person was shot and pronounced dead at the scene.
No officers were injured.
The police statement said that the situation was not considered “an active shooter situation,” an indication that no armed suspects were on the loose. An investigation is ongoing.
Jeff Keith, deputy director with Mecklenburg EMS, said the mall was closed but people were still hiding in stores and were trying to get out. Police said that family members should go to the AMC parking lot to look for relatives.
John Dawson, a salesman who lives in Charlotte, said he was at the mall buying a gift for his date when the shooting erupted. He said it began with an argument inside a store, which he said was packed with customers.
“There was a dude fighting with one or two dudes, and I kind of stopped and looked over there,” Dawson said. One person pulled out a gun and started “shooting everywhere.”
He said other shoppers began running when the shots were fired. He said a police officer was nearby and returned the fire.
Dawson said the suspect appeared to have been hit twice by the police officer. He said he backed up against a wall and watched as people fled the scene.
Don Willis, who works as a valet at the mall, said he heard gunshots, then saw a wave of people exiting the mall.
“It was wild. I heard the first shot and I thought, ‘Wait. What was that?’ And kind of like started turning around and walking and saw this huge line of people — wave of people coming — and I thought a bomb was about to go off, and I just took off,” he said.