Mall Of America lifts lockdown after reported shooting

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) – A shooting at the Mall of America sent frightened shoppers at the nation’s largest mall into a frenzy just before the holiday weekend, mall officials and police in suburban Minneapolis said Friday.

The Bloomington Police Department responded to the shooting just before 8 p.m., the mall said in a statement. The lockdown lasted about an hour before the mall tweeted that shoppers were being sent outside. Emergency vehicles had gathered in the snow-covered parking lot, and police could be seen putting up yellow crime scene tape near the Nordstrom store.

Police did not immediately provide details on whether anyone was injured or arrested. A press briefing was scheduled for 10:30 p.m

Videos posted on social media showed shoppers hiding in stores, and an announcement in the mall warned people to take shelter. Some videos show customers running for cover after a loud bang is heard.

The reported shooting comes as malls and shopping centers across the US see an influx of shoppers just days before Christmas.

Jenny Hefty of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and her 16-year-old daughter had just gotten off the escalator up to the mall’s second floor, in front of the Nordstrom store, when people started running toward them and screaming. Her daughter thought she heard gunshots, even though Hefty didn’t.

“At first we thought they were just messing around,” she told The Associated Press on Friday night. “It was like, ‘Why are all these kids running past us?'”

Two first responders and an ambulance are seen at the entrance to the Nordstrom at the Mall of America after reports of shots fired Friday.
Two first responders and an ambulance are seen at the entrance to the Nordstrom at the Mall of America after reports of shots fired Friday.

Kerem Yücel/Minnesota Public Radio via AP

Security officers speak inside a store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota after reports of shots fired Friday.
Security officers speak inside a store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota after reports of shots fired Friday.

Kerem Yücel/Minnesota Public Radio via AP

An officer stands inside the Nordstrom at the Mall of America after a shooting on Friday.
An officer stands inside the Nordstrom at the Mall of America after a shooting on Friday.

Retailers began closing their doors and her husband told them to run as armed guards rushed toward Nordstrom, where Hefty had tried on perfume about 20 minutes earlier.

The trio raced to their hotel in the mall and frantically tried to reach the couple’s 18-year-old daughter, 21-year-old son and their friends on their cellphones. They had been locked inside shops or taken into safer places when the mall was locked down.

The family, who often travel the four hours to the mall, were in town for the Minnesota Vikings’ football game against the New York Giants on Saturday.

“Obviously we wanted to come early and do some Christmas shopping,” Hefty said.

The giants stayed in a hotel next to the mall. Pat Hanlon, the team’s executive vice president of communications, said he believes some players were in the mall at the time of the shooting.

“Everyone is back at the hotel and accounted for now,” Hanlon said Friday night.

Since it opened in 1992, the mall has been a tourist destination and community gathering place. It bans guns on the premises, but shoppers generally have not been required to go through metal detectors. The mall said in October that it was testing a “weapon detection system” at one of its entrances.

The mall was locked down in August after a reported shooting at the Minneapolis mall sent some shoppers fleeing and two people were injured last New Year’s Eve during an apparent altercation.

Representatives from the city of Bloomington did not immediately return requests for comment.

Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed.

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