Shots fired? Search continues but mall will reopen
Posted August 13, 2016 2:59 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Crabtree Valley Mall will open as usual on Sunday while police continue their investigation into what sent shoppers stampeding to safety on a busy Saturday afternoon.
Police were called to the mall just after 2:30 p.m. on the report of gunshots, but, after four hours of searching, they found no shooter, no one who had a gunshot wound and no shell casings.
"We have not determined that there was a shooter," said Raleigh Chief of Police Cassandra Deck-Brown. "We're looking at all possibilities. People heard the popping sound. Some thought it was a gunshot, and we have to evaluate all possibilities."
While officers had secured the interior of the mall, Deck-Brown said they would look to 911 calls, mobile phone video and surveillance video to get to the bottom of what happened. In an announcement over the Crabtree Valley Mall public address system, Raleigh police asked that anyone who saw or heard gunshots step forward to help with the investigation.
Elisabeth Hammond, who was in the food court, said she was certain about what she heard. "I'm a country girl," she said. "I know what gunfire sounds like. I felt it in my chest."
Sources told WRAL News that there appeared to be two bullet holes in the ceiling inside the mall.
Antonio Richardson said he was standing at the entrance of Casanova, a clothing store near the mall food court, when he saw two men who appeared to be in their early 20s arguing. As he was running away, he says he heard as many as four shots in all.
Most shoppers only saw and heard the panic of the aftermath of the series of popping sounds.
Ricardo Flores was near the H&M store. "They let everybody out through the back (of the store)," he said. "Everyone started going crazy and running out. The security guards told us to get out."
Tony Rice, a NASA Solar System Ambassador and contributor to WRAL.com, said he and his family heard people screaming and running from the mall. Rice said he passed by law enforcement officials as he left the mall.
"I thought it was an earthquake when people started running," Rice said.
C.T. and Katie Weeda were in a dressing room when they heard the sounds of panic. The couple said they considered whether they'd make it out alive. "We did say, 'I love you' and 'I'm glad we're together,'" C.T. Weeda said.
As police went store to store to clear the mall, shoppers waited in the hot sun for permission to leave and access to their cars. Some waited in the air-conditioned comfort of the nearby Marriott and Embassy Suites hotels. Others boarded Go Raleigh buses brought in to provide a respite.
The mall will be open from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, and people who left behind belongings in their haste to escape can pick those things up in the community room at Highway 55 in the food court, spokesman Brian Asbill said. Shoppers can also call the mall office after noon on Sunday at 919-787-2506.
Eight people were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries related to the rush for the exits, Deck-Brown said.
Glenwood Avenue was shut down near the mall for hours, re-opening around 8 p.m.