A gunman opened fire at a mall in Tacoma, Washington, sending shoppers scrambling, shortly before noon local time, local media reported.
The mall was put on lockdown while local police searched for the gunman. Shortly before 4:30 p.m. local time, police confirmed that the shooter was dead.
Police have yet to identify the shooter, and it’s not clear whether they had contact with him before the shooting. Local media reported that the mall’s emergency management system activated, and shoppers took to social media to share footage of SWAT teams surrounding the mall.
A witness to the shooting told CNN affiliate KIRO there was a “huge rush of people” fleeing from the mall, while people were sitting outside and “running all the way to Target.”
David Berthiaume was shopping at Macy’s at the Westfield Lake City Mall when he heard four gunshots. He said he then saw “a long line of people” rushing out of the Macy’s.
“Some of the shots I thought were fired were so close to us, I thought they were fireworks or something, but they did keep firing, and people were sprinting and screaming and crying and moving faster than you could say ‘OK,’” Berthiaume told CNN.
“It was kind of like a scene from a movie. It was surreal,” he said.
He and others ran to the nearest escape door.
“When we finally got out it was so crowded, all the way to all the way around the block, we were turned around and had to run two blocks before we could find a place to hide,” Berthiaume said.
One eyewitness, who had been shopping with her sister, told local media they ran out of Macy’s screaming.
“We got up the stairs, and we just saw people running and screaming and crying,” the woman told KOMO News.
One man told KOMO his friends were in Macy’s, and described the scene as “chaotic.”
“They’re … inside, they’re crying,” he said.
“They are trying to come up with any way possible to get out of there.”
Most mall shoppers were able to get away safely, police said.
Scott Benda, an administrator with the Lake City Schools, said the shooting did not affect the district’s student attendance, but several schools were locked down until students were safely evacuated.
“All staff and students are safe,” Benda said.
Tacoma Police Department Officer Mark Jamieson said that there are “unknowns at this time regarding the shooter, whether a suspect is still at large. The SWAT team is still working the crime scene as we speak.”
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call them at (425) 636-2250.