Shots rang out inside Cumberland Mall on Saturday afternoon as frightened shoppers scrambled for cover, police said.
The shooting was the result of a verbal altercation that occurred between two people in the mall’s food court, said Cobb County police spokeswoman Officer Sarah O’Hara.
The gunman fled the scene after the shooting, and officers are still searching for him. One gunshot victim was rushed to the hospital, but the person’s condition is unknown.
A heavy police presence converged on the busy mall about 1:30 p.m. as officers responded to 911 calls.
“Yes, shots were fired. But not randomly,” Cobb police wrote on Twitter. “Updated information indicates (the) involved parties know one another.”
A video posted online appeared to show shoppers running through the food court as gunshots rang out.
“It was pure pandemonium,” shopper Adrian Matthews told Channel 2 Action News at the scene. “People started running and knocked over pretty much the entire store. Candles, glass — It was crazy.”
Matthews said the terrified customers hid in a storage room at the back of Bath & Body Works until the shooting was over and they were allowed to leave.
Similar scenes played out in shops across the mall, witnesses said.
Paulding County resident Michael Hoover was in the Buckle store about 100 feet from the food court with his wife and son when the shooting began.
“You could hear the shots going off,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I couldn’t stop shaking.”
After banging on the dressing room doors to alert his family, Hoover said his only focus was getting everyone to the back of the store.
Employees dropped the gate down to prevent anyone from entering the business as shoppers hid in the storage area and restrooms at the rear of the shop.
“I was petrified,” Jan Hoover said.
It’s unclear what led to the shooting, but police said multiple shoppers inside the mall experienced panic attacks as people rushed to get out.
A couple of pregnant women also asked to have their unborn babies examined, O’Hara said.
“When we first arrived, we wanted to make sure that the threat was eliminated,” she said. “After that, we started bringing in rescue teams to get the people who were experiencing medical issues. And then we went through and started bringing everybody out that was barricaded inside the stores, closets and such.”
A Cobb motorcycle officer en route to the mall was struck by another vehicle as he responded to the scene, O’Hara said. He was treated for minor injuries.
The mall remained closed as police investigate, but was expected to reopen Saturday evening, authorities said. Drivers were encouraged to avoid the area for several hours.
— Please return to AJC.com for updates.
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