ROANOKE, Va. – Though a shooting over the weekend at Roanoke’s Valley View Mall was isolated, it had many shoppers running for their lives, thinking it was something much worse.
Saturday night’s shooting happened during an argument between two people at the mall, according to the Roanoke Police Department.
When it happened, the people inside who were locked down had no idea what was going on, leading some to treat it as an active shooter situation.
That includes Clint Colquhoun, who is deaf and shared his experience with 10 News through an interpreter.
Colquhoun was shopping in Zumiez when he heard a bang through his implants.
“I didn’t know what it was, if something fell or broke, and they said ‘gunshot,’” said Colquhoun.
As chaos ensued, store employees knew Colquhoun was deaf because the word ‘Deaf’ is printed on his face mask. Colquhoun said they made sure he was safe.
“They said, ‘Go to the back room.’ A woman staff said, ‘Go to the back room,’ and they pulled down the front entrance door,” said Colquhoun.
Two days later, Roanoke police said they’re still working to identify the suspect, and the victim is still in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Roanoke mayor Sherman Lea said this is a new low for the Star City.
“We saw shootings and violent acts, but we never saw people going into places with little regard for who is around taking violent action,” said Lea.
Lea said following nearly two years of violence, sentencing needs to be harsh so criminals get the message.
“I’m advocating now for these individuals that are caught and taken to jail that they be sentenced as hard and as long and with the full enforcement of the law,” Lea said. “This isn’t Roanoke. We’ve seen shootings and violent acts but we have never seen people going into places with little regard for who is around, taking violent action and so that’s what we’re going to have to combat. I think we’ve got a plan to do that.”
Colquhoun also had a message to share, one of gratitude.
“I want to thank the people at Zumiez who work there for helping keep me safe in the back room and thank you so much,” said Colquhoun.
Roanoke city manager Bob Cowell said in a statement Monday that over the last year they’ve made changes in the police department to better respond to violent incidents.
That includes reassigning officers for better response and continuing to leverage the gun violence task force.
READ COWELL’S FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
“The City continues to be concerned with the increase in gun violence we have experienced in the past year. This concern has led to an enhanced law enforcement response, including realignment of certain personnel to increase the resources available to respond to violent crime. This law enforcement response has been accompanied by a non-law enforcement response as well, involving the Gun Violence Task Force, use of a Rapid Response Team, etc. These efforts are intended to offer both short- and long-term outcomes. The City’s Police Department continues to investigate the most recent shooting and seeks assistance from anyone with further information about this incident.” -- City Manager Bob Cowell
Anyone with information is asked to call 540-344-8500 or text the police department at 274637, beginning the text with “Roanoke PD” to ensure the text is properly sent. Both calls and text can be sent anonymously.