Police block off a section of Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard after a shooting at West End mall in Atlanta on Friday. (DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL)
Photo: David Barnes
Photo: David Barnes

Rival gangs exchange gunfire, injuring 3 outside West End mall

Investigators believe an argument inside The Mall West End spilled outside Friday afternoon and ended with shots exchanged between rival gang members.

Two men and a woman were shot, including one man in the head, but all survived, according to police. No one was in custody Friday evening. Though police said the shootings were not random, it was the second shooting in less than a month outside the southwest Atlanta mall.

“We believe that the people that were involved were specific targets,” Sgt. Warren Pickard said. “They had a misunderstanding that led to gunfire.”

Witnesses told police that the incident began inside the mall following a transaction, possibly drug-related. Investigators said a mall surveillance camera may help identify those involved. No footage was released Friday.

“There was a subject with a bag. What was in the bag, we don’t know,” Pickard said. “They were arguing over the bag. They identified themselves as rival gang members. Somehow the incident escalated outside of the mall.”

The shootings happened just around 3:30 p.m. in the mall parking lot on the corner of Lee Street and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. The area was temporarily closed late Friday afternoon during the investigation.

A pool of blood was left on the sidewalk, and employees were sweeping up shards of glass outside Celebrity Status Salon. No one inside the salon was injured.

Witnesses told police a white SUV approached and a man got out and began shooting. At least one person on the sidewalk returned shots, and as many as 20 shots were fired, Pickard said.

Investigators asked for the public’s help in locating the SUV, a Hyundai with a black luggage rack on top with paint chipped off the hood. No information was available on the vehicle’s tag number, police said.

On Feb. 22, a man was shot in the stomach and found in the street outside the mall, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Three men were seen running from the area toward the West End MARTA station. In 2015, smash-and-grab burglaries were reported at two stores in the mall, including Jimmy Jazz, a clothing and shoe store.

“Everything is fine,” an employee at Jimmy Jazz said Friday afternoon.

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