Panic erupted at a North Carolina mall filled with Black Friday shoppers when three people were shot - including a 10-year-old boy - and three others injured in what authorities described as a fight between two groups.
Gunshots pierced the air at 3:23 p.m. inside The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham, the city's police chief, Patrice Andrews, said at a news briefing. Off-duty officers called in for assistance as fearful crowds ran toward the exits.
An unidentified child was hit by a bullet that ricocheted and taken to a nearby hospital with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries, Andrews said. No information was immediately available on the two others shot. Three people were also injured as they tried to flee what the chief called a fight between "two groups who knew each other."
Videos and photos shared on social media show people running after the gunfire erupted, leaving behind flipped chairs, fallen signs and food atop tables at the food court.
"The gun sounds were followed by what sounded like a wave of rain on a tin roof as everyone started screaming, running, and pushing each other," Hadley Connell, who was with her fiance at the food court, told CNN.
While the total number of people involved remains uncertain, Andrews said many of the perpetrators quickly fled the scene. Police, however, have a suspect in custody, as well as several witnesses. At least one weapon was recovered.
The mall was placed on lockdown and "will be closed until further notice," according to its website. The parking lot filled with police cars and lines of shoppers' vehicles attempting to exit as officers descended on the scene.
While there was no remaining active threat, authorities urged the public to avoid the area.
"The shooting in the mall at southpoint in #Durham was one of the most traumatic experiences I ever had in my life," wrote a Twitter user who identified themselves as a worker at BoxLunch.
Homicides rose in 29 major U.S. cities through September compared with the same period last year, according to the Council on Criminal Justice, a Washington-based institute. Killings across the country spiked nearly 30 percent in 2020, the FBI has said.
According to data from Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection and research group, Durham has seen 154 gun violence incidents this year as of Friday evening - leaving 39 dead and 140 people injured. Last year, 36 people died and 152 were wounded in the 156 recorded incidents.
“Shootings in this city have got to stop,” Andrews said. “It’s got to stop.”A: