At least 14 people have been injured in a shooting at a busy shopping centre in Columbia, capital of the US state of South Carolina, and police say they have arrested a suspect.
Victims of Saturday’s shooting at Columbiana Centre, ranged from 15 to 73, according to Columbia Police Chief W H “Skip” Holbrook who added that 22-year-old Jewayne M Price, one of three people initially detained as a person of interest, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol.
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Holbrook said no fatalities were reported but nine people were shot and five suffered injuries while attempting to flee the mall.
Police said a 73-year-old victim continues to receive medical treatment, but the other victims have been released from local hospitals or will be released shortly.
“We don’t believe this was random,” Holbrook said. “We believe they knew each other and something led to the gunfire.”
Investigators believe that at least three suspects displayed firearms inside the mall, and are working to determine how many suspects fired weapons. Police said at least one firearm was seized.
Daniel Johnson, who was visiting from Alabama with his family, said they were eating in the food court when they first heard shots and started seeing people running.
Johnson said people were screaming, knocking over tables in the food court as they fled.
“Everybody was trying to get outside,” Johnson said. “When I was coming out, you could see baby strollers turned over, people’s phones and left keys. It was kind of a hectic situation.”
Johnson said he gathered his wife, daughter and son and began heading towards the exit after letting the crowd clear out for a bit.
Heavy police presence continued in the area hours after the shooting, though officers began letting more traffic through the streets surrounding the shopping centres and strip malls that are usually packed on weekends.
Officers were also stationed outside a nearby hotel designated as a reunification area for people at the scene of the shooting and their families.
The shooting is the latest in a rash of shootings at or near shopping centres across the country.
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head on Wednesday outside Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall.
On Tuesday, a Southern California shoe store owner mistakenly shot a nine-year-old girl while firing at two shoplifters at the Mall of Victor Valley, police said.
Earlier this month, police said six people were killed and 12 others wounded in Sacramento, California, during a gunfight between rival gangs as bars closed in a busy area near the Downtown Commons shopping mall and the state Capitol.