Police are on the hunt for a gunman who went on a shooting spree inside a mall in Burlington, Washington, on Friday night, which left three dead and two injured.
State patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Francis initially said that four people had died during an interview with KCPQ, but later revised that number to only three. All three of the fatalities were women, he said, while another man was taken to a hospital after suffering severe injuries. Another was also taken to the hospital, but did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
Francis said that the incident took place inside a Macy's store located at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, shortly before 7 p.m. local time.Authorities were able to release surveillance footage of a man who is believed to be the suspect in the Washington shooting incident. The footage shows him carrying what appears to be a rifle while walking through the mall. Police described the suspect as a Hispanic man wearing a black shirt, and was last seen headed towards Interstate 5.
According to Francis, the police do not know what the suspect's motives were for the shooting or if he specifically targeted his victims. He said that the victim's ages ranged from their 20s to elderly, but did not have any additional identifying information.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that many questions remain, but the local place and state patrol are on the scene, doing all they can to locate the suspect, and have the area cleared.
"Trudi and I send our condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for anyone injured. We urge residents to heed all safety and detour warnings. Stay close to your friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect's capture."Stephanie Bose, who works as an assistant general manager at Johnny Carino's Italian Restaurant which is located close to the Macy's store where the incident took place, told the Associated Press that she immediately locked the restaurant's doors after she heard about the shooting from one of her employee's boyfriend.
EMS starting to enter to attend to injured inside Mall w/ police escort and after initial clearance. pic.twitter.com/Nkfb7co6saShe said he could see police just outside of the mall's doors armed with assault rifles and said that they had stopped guarding the doors as of 9:30 pm local time.
— Sgt. Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) September 24, 2016
"He was trying to go to the mall and people were screaming," she said. "It was frantic."
All access streets and roads surrounding the mall have been closed by authorities until further notice. Workers and visitors who were released from the mall after being locked in were later taken to a local church where they were able to meet their loved ones.
Witnesses described confusion and chaotic scenes when the shooting took place.
Moviegoers in the mall's theater were asked by attendants to leave. Brandi Montreuil said that she was watching a movie in the theater when one of the attendants came in and told everyone they had to leave.
"I didn't know anything," she said. "The theater attendant came in and apologized for stopping the movie and said they were asked to have everyone leave immediately."
She thought it was just an emergency drill at first.
"But you immediately think about what happened in Aurora, Colorado, so you start moving faster."This was in reference to the 2012 shooting incident at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 people dead.
When they got outside, they saw several police vehicles, but there were no officers in sight, Montreuil said.
Burlington is located 65 miles south of Seattle. The Cascade Mall is an enclosed mall in Burlington that opened in 1990, according to its website. It features stores such as Macy's J.C. Penney, and T.J. Maxx, among others. It also houses a movie theater and some restaurants.
[Featured Image by Stephen Brashear/AP Images]