Police search for man who fired gun inside crowded mall
Wallkill, N.Y. — Police on Monday were searching for the man who fired a gun inside a crowded mall, injuring a woman and her 12-year-old son and sending holiday shoppers scrambling for cover.
Authorities in the town of Wallkill said a handgun was discharged around 3 p.m. Sunday at the Galleria at Crystal Run, 60 miles northwest of New York City. Police on Monday were still trying to determine if the shooting outside an American Eagle clothing store was intentional or an accident.
Wallkill Police Chief Robert Hertman said at news conference Sunday evening that the two victims suffered minor injuries. Police didn’t know if they had been hit by the single round that was fired.
Wallkill police officials didn’t return messages Monday seeking updates on the search for the gunman.
The shooting occurred on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. By mid-day Sunday throngs of shoppers were filling the mall, home to more than 100 tenants, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Target. The loud bang from the gunfire sent shoppers scurrying for safety, either by exiting the mall or by hiding in back rooms with store employees.
“We went into full lockdown,” Aaron Etienne, an employee of Trak 23 Clothing Co., told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown. “We slammed the gates shut. I saw police officers with guns and K-9s walking by.”
Police conducted store-by-store searches and escorted people out of the mall. Etienne said he and four other people huddled in a storeroom for about an hour until a police officer led them to the parking lot.
Hertman said it’s legal for a person with a permit to bring a gun into a mall, although the Galleria’s website said the property has policy prohibiting weapons.
When it appeared there was some type of threat, security personnel at H&M shut the gates on the two-story retailer and sent workers to a storeroom, part of the active-shooter drill the employees had practiced.
“With everything going on in the world, you have to be prepared,” said employee Aiyana Raiz.