CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four people were injured during a shooting in the food court of Eastridge Mall in Gastonia on Friday afternoon, police said.
Two people are being questioned, Gastonia Police Chief Travis Brittain told reporters during a news conference outside the mall. There is no longer an active threat at the mall, police said.
The shooting was reported around 12:10 p.m., and lockdown procedures were followed, including an evacuation of the mall, police said. In some cases, shoppers and workers took action to shelter in place; others immediately exited the mall.
Breanna Webb, who works for a shoe store inside the mall, said she saw two men with black plastic masks enter the food court as she headed to her car.
“I thought it was a bit weird, and it caught me off guard,” Webb told The Charlotte Observer. “I didn’t really know what to think.”
Minutes later, police officers “started coming in really fast,” she said.
Then police told Webb to lock the store’s doors. Eventually, officers escorted her and customers out of the store with their hands up, she said.
Video posted on Facebook from the scene showed a man carrying a woman in his arms through the food court, blood-splattered floors, and first responders aiding a man in a camouflage hat next to a FedEx vehicle.
Brittain said officers who responded applied tourniquets and provided first aid to victims.
The three victims were taken to a hospital and are expected to recover from their injuries, Gaston Emergency Medical Services told WSOC.
Brittain said the victims were two men and a woman.
Their “injuries are non-life threatening — thank goodness,” he said.
Police later learned a fourth victim showed up at a hospital in Charlotte. “At this point, the public is safe,” he said.
Police confirmed someone was seen running from the mall in the direction of a nearby woodline, the TV station reported. It’s unclear if that person running was a suspect or involved at all.
Brittain said it is early in the investigation, and police don’t know if there will be more suspects as they learn more about what happened.
“We are going to ask for patience from everyone,” he said. “We are going to work as fast as we can, but we are going to work deliberate because we need to collect all the evidence that we need … to see this prosecution through.”
Mall officials, in a Facebook post, said Eastridge would remain closed on Friday. Shoppers were asked to check back later about weekend hours.
Eastridge Mall started a curfew policy five years ago after there were fights and other problems at the mall, The Charlotte Observer previously reported. The curfew requires children age 17 and younger to shop with a parent or legal guardian after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
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