3 sought after shooting, robbery at Town Center jewelry store

Cobb County police said a Town Center jewelry store was robbed by three masked suspects, who fled the scene before officers arrived.

Credit: NewsChopper 2

Credit: NewsChopper 2

Cobb County police said a Town Center jewelry store was robbed by three masked suspects, who fled the scene before officers arrived.

Cobb County police shut down Town Center mall in Kennesaw on Thursday afternoon while they investigated an armed robbery and shooting at a jewelry store — the latest incident at a metro area shopping center.

Police spokesman Sgt. Wayne Delk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that officers were called to the mall about 3:20 p.m. After an initial investigation, Cobb police determined a jewelry store was robbed by three masked suspects, who fled the scene before officers arrived.

Delk later confirmed to the AJC on the scene that shots were fired inside the mall, backing up several witnesses’ accounts. A store employee suffered a non-life-threatening injury, police confirmed, but it’s not clear if that person was shot.

Police have not released the name of the store, but Channel 2 Action News reported it was A&M Custom Jewelry.

Giannys Roman, a 19-year-old student at Kennesaw State who works in the mall, was in the food court when she heard shots fired. She said it took her a moment to recognize the sound of gunfire after the first shot. But when it continued, the crowd panicked and ran in all directions.

”One guy almost broke a door trying to get out,” Roman said.

She estimated she heard seven to 10 gunshots, which continued as she exited the mall. She got in her car and left, but some of her coworkers remained inside hiding alongside customers.

A Sephora employee, who asked the AJC not to use his name, was helping customers in the fragrance section when he heard the barrage of gunfire in the mall.

“I recognized the sound of gunshots immediately,” he said. “People didn’t really hesitate. They were running in the opposite direction.”

He estimated there were about 30 customers inside his store at the time. Many of them scrambled into the stock room for safety.

Fortunately, he said, the stock room has a door that leads into the mall’s parking lot. He and a colleague opened the door and ushered the frightened customers outside.

Others poured out the front of the store and into the mall, witnesses said.

“In a panic, nobody truly knows where they’re going,” the Sephora employee said. “I don’t know if they were going toward their cars or if they were just trying to get out.”

Jaden Richards was working at The Children’s Place when she heard what sounded like 10 gunshots.

“I heard one, and then I saw people start to look around,” Richards said.

“I've never heard gunshots like that before, ever."

- Jaden Richards, witness to the Town Center shooting

She heard the additional shots as several customers and employees made a beeline for the storage closet. They hid there until it was safe to evacuate.

“I’ve never heard gunshots like that before, ever,” Richards said.

Thursday’s shooting was the eighth in the past year at metro Atlanta shopping centers.

Most recently, investigators believe an argument escalated to gunfire at a southeast Atlanta shopping plaza Saturday night. Three teenagers were shot, and a 15-year-old girl was killed, police said.

Shootings have also been reported at Lenox Square, Arbor Place Mall and near Phipps Plaza, where 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie was shot days before Christmas as she rode in a car with her family. The Cobb County girl died from her injuries.

The shooting at Town Center was also the second at a Cobb County mall in about six weeks. On March 23, a shootout between two cars in a parking lot outside of Cumberland Mall resulted in four people being injured, including a 6-year-old. Three teenagers who were involved in the exchange of gunfire were also injured and later arrested, police said.

Karanji Reese, 18, Jokava Harris, 19, and Desean Powell, 19, are all facing drug and weapons charges. Harris is also facing one count of reckless conduct after police said he fired a gun in the parking lot.

— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.