TUKWILA — The Southcenter Mall in Tukwila was locked down Saturday night as police went store to store in an effort to find a young man who shot two other young men, one of them fatally, inside the mall.
Police spokesman Mike Murphy, an officer, told the Associated Press there were “thousands” of shoppers at the mall when the shooting took place just before 3:45 p.m.
The shooting victims were taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where one of them died. Murphy said he did not know the condition of the other victim.
Murphy said the gunman used a pistol and fired multiple shots. He said at least two people were detained for questioning, but neither was the shooter.
As police searched for the shooter, they allowed store employees and customers remaining in the mall to exit the mall in groups, Murphy said.
He told the AP that there was a possibility the assailant “may have escaped” with the crowd.
The assailant and the two victims were all in their late teens or early 20s. Murphy said no other people were injured.
SWAT teams from all over Puget Sound converged on the mall to help search for the suspect, who is believed to have gotten into an altercation with the two victims. But it was unknown what led to the shooting or the relationship between the shooter and the victims or even between the victims themselves.
Chauncey Williams, a soldier from Fort Lewis, said he witnessed the shooting. He said he was coming out a store when he saw two men arguing and then saw one pull out a gun and start firing.
“I’ve got the heebie jeebies,” Williams told a Seattle newspaper. “It’s like I’m back in Iraq or something.”
A customer, 51-year-old Mark Nickels of Seattle, described the chaos that erupted after the shooting.
“Everybody just stopped,” Nickels said. “Everybody thought something fell. Then a second or two later, there was a second shot and then everybody scattered. People were running to the (exits) or running to the stores to hide.”
Christine Pierce, 18, of Seattle said she is a regular shopper at Southcenter and showed up Saturday to visit her sister, who works at the mall.
“They need tighter security,” Pierce told a Seattle newspaper.
In March, a 21-year-old man was wounded in gunfire between several people outside the mall. In September 2005, two men were shot and killed inside a car parked at the mall during what appeared to be a drug deal.