2 shooting victims at Eastland Mall parking lot undergo surgery, expected to recover

Kim Kozlowski and Steve Pardo
The Detroit News

Harper WoodsTheo Rolls and Michael Johnson were walking through the Eastland Center parking lot on Wednesday afternoon, headed to a McDonald’s, when chaos erupted.

“There was a lot of yelling going on,” said Johnson, 17. “Then I heard gunshots.”

The teen said he heard two or three shots, then more yelling. “Someone was like, ‘Hurry up. Get in the car. Get in the car.’ ”

In the aftermath, two people were reported shot at the suburban mall on Vernier.

The victims were a man and a woman, police said.

A car pulled up and shot at a group of mall employees, said a woman who was picking up her sister.

Letitia Moore, a St. Clair Shores resident, said the woman who got shot in the back is a nail technician. Moore described her as kind and quiet.

“It’s really sad,” Moore said. “The force of a pen is more powerful than a bullet. ... If you have a problem with someone, build a paper trail.”

Police said the man and woman were shot about 3:30 p.m.near a door of the closed Sears store. As the woman was walking out, three or four males pulled up in a vehicle and shot from the windows, police said. The vehicle — believed to be occupied by at least three people — was last seen traveling east on Eight Mile.

The man, 30, suffered minor injuries. The woman, 22, underwent surgery and was upgraded from critical to serious condition, police said. Both were expected to recover.

Authorities used police tape to cordon off portions of the parking lot . About a half-dozen investigators set down evidence markers. Police recovered 25-30 casings from a large-caliber handgun and possible assault rifle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety at (313) 343-2530.

Authorities did not release the names of the victims.

News of the shooting rattled visitors.

“It doesn’t happen like this around here,” Rolls said. “It’s pretty safe.”

Jerry Thompson, a retired EMS worker from Detroit, noticed markers in the mall parking lot, so he pulled up to the scene.

“When you see something like this, you always hope your folks are at home,” Thompson said. “My son’s at home. I feel safe.”

Twitter was abuzz with pictures of police swarming the mall and comments from observers.

“Another summer, another shooting at Eastland Mall,” said one tweet. “I haven’t been there in 6 years...thank God.”

A second user wrote: “Another shooting at Eastland Mall...Surprise, surprise.”

One user added: “They just keep shooting at Eastland Mall .... that’s why I drive deep if I really need to do some shopping.”

A mall representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

This isn’t the first time Eastland — home to retailers such as Macy’s, Target and Foot Locker — has experienced gunfire.

In September 2010, Cedell Henry Leverett, 30, was found shot several times as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car in the mall parking lot. Two people were charged in his death.

Last December, an 18-year-old Detroit man was arraigned and charged after allegedly shooting at a motorist in Harper Woods during a altercation at the mall.

The month before, shots also were fired in the mall’s parking lot after an armed robbery that may have started with an argument over sneakers, police said.

Detroit News Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed to this report.