ATLANTA, GA – A shooting that wounded one man in a mall food court sent suburban Atlanta shoppers fleeing in panic Saturday.
The Cobb County Police Department said in a statement that the man was wounded at Cumberland Mall around 1 p.m. following an argument and that the shooting suspect ran away. The victim was taken to a hospital, where Cobb County Police spokeswoman Ofc. Sarah O'Hara said he was in surgery and “expected to survive his injuries.”
Police said they have identified a suspect and are looking for him, but O'Hara provided no further details.
Three witnesses told The Associated Press they saw a man bleeding on the floor of the mall's food court after shots were heard. None of the witnesses would identify themselves.
Videos posted online showed people with shopping bags running in all directions from the food court, with some hiding under counters and tables. Shoppers reported that store employees in some cases told them to hide in stockrooms. Police, upon arriving, evacuated people who were found hiding.
Zyon Davis told WGCL-TV that he was shopping in a sporting goods store when he overheard two men arguing loudly at a deli in the food court. Davis said one of the men then drew a gun.
“You heard the gunshots, probably two or three shots," Davis said.
In the aftermath, Davis said some people pushed and shoved others to the ground as they ran.
“It was very chaotic,” Davis said. “Everybody was running everwhere. Everything was a mess.”
O’Hara said multiple shoppers were examined by paramedics because of panic attacks, while several pregnant women also sough examinations. She said a motorcycle officer was struck by another vehicle while coming to the mall, but was treated for minor injuries and released.
Police said in statements that the shooting was “an isolated incident,” calling it a dispute between people who knew each other and “not an active shooter event.” Police added that the original supervisor who arrived at the mall, “out of an abundance of caution,” described the scene as an active shooter incident, meaning a gunman targeting numbers of people in a public place.
Jammal Jones, a 29-year-old Atlanta resident, said he was with his girlfriend eating in the food court when he saw the fight break out.
“You could tell somebody was like fighting. You could hear the sneakers. You could hear them screeching like on the basketball courts," Jones said, adding he ducked for cover when the gun went off. He described a scene of chaos with people running after the fight broke out and then the gunfire.
“Everybody running and got out of there quick," he said. “...It was just like, wow, that's crazy. I usually watch this sort of thing on YouTube and there it is happening in front of you."
The mall was closed for a time Saturday afternoon following the shooting, but later reopened. O'Hara said shoppers left behind “copious amounts of items” while running away, urging people to claim them.
Cumberland Mall, in suburban Cobb County, is owned by Brookfield Properties, which manages more than 170 shopping centers across the United States. The mall has more than 1 million square feet (92,000 square meters) of retail space and is anchored by Macy's and Costco. It's in a busy suburban business district, near where major league baseball's Atlanta Braves play in their new stadium.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of “Jammal."