A shooting inside the Nordstrom department store at the Mall of America on Friday night left a 19-year-old man dead, according to Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges.
Hodges said during a late-night news conference that the shooting involved an altercation between two groups of young men and that the individuals involved fled the scene immediately after the shooting, which occurred about 7:50 p.m. on the eve of Christmas weekend.
A Bloomington officer who was nearby heard the shots and arrived to find the victim on the ground, Hodges said.
“We had 16 officers working today in the mall. Sixteen cops,” Hodges said. “And they still decide to do this. I’m at a loss.”
No arrests had been made by late Friday. Hodges will give an update at 5 p.m. Saturday, Bloomington police tweeted Saturday morning.
Hodges said detectives are in the process of identifying suspects and vowed that “we’re going to catch these people.” Police did not release the name of the victim, but Hodges said he and Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse met with members of the victim’s family.
“Here we are before Christmas, and they’re going to have to bury a loved one,” Hodges said.
An innocent bystander’s coat sleeve was grazed by a stray bullet, but the person was uninjured, Hodges said.
After the shooting, the mall was briefly put on lockdown, which was lifted about an hour later. At that point, the mall closed for the night and remaining customers were asked to head home. Hodges said he was told the mall would be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday but that Nordstrom, which is one of the mall’s original tenants and anchor stores, would be closed.
Hodges said the altercation appeared to have involved five to nine individuals, all men. It’s not a first for gunshots inside the state’s biggest shopping mall, which last saw a gunfire incident in August.
Dan Kauppi, who was shopping at the mall at the time, said he didn’t see much.
“An alarm went off in the mall, which was unusual, and an announcement said a lockdown was happening and to go into a store and head to the back,” he said. “The store I am in closed their front gates. After a few moments, they said we should head to the stock room.”
Suri Caceres, a store manager at Pink, a clothing store on the first level, said she, another manager and customers locked the door and went to the back of the store after getting a phone call from the mall’s security. She said they could see police in the mall corridor through the store’s windows.
“I’m kind of shocked and scared,” Caceres said.
A store clerk at Club Monaco, a clothing store near Nordstrom, who declined to identify herself, said police came to the store about 8 p.m. and said to shut the door and “stay down.”
The clerk said she locked the door, but some customers who were inside opened it and left. Only she and a co-worker were still in the store. She said she hadn’t seen any victims but could see “police running around.” She said she did not see any officers with their guns drawn.
“I’m a little freaked out,” she said.
At the Crocs shoe store on the first level, an alarm went off to signal the lockdown, a clerk said.
The clerks locked the door with customers inside. At 8:30 p.m., she said clerks and customers remained in the back of the store. She said police had not given any reason for the lockdown.
As he was after the gunfire incident in August, Hodges was asked Friday night if he considered the mall safe. He said he’d been there shopping earlier in the day with family members.
“We’ll keep coming back,” he said. As to how such incidents could be stopped, Hodges said: “If someone is just hellbent on displaying a lack of respect for humanity — I don’t know.”
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