Saturday 10 December 2016

Christmas shoppers dived for cover during mall shoot-out

Steve Reed

Published 26/12/2015 | 02:30

Police and paramedics rush to the scene at Northlake Mall in North Carolina. Photo: Robert Lahser/The Charlotte Observer
Police and paramedics rush to the scene at Northlake Mall in North Carolina. Photo: Robert Lahser/The Charlotte Observer

A long-standing dispute sparked a shooting at a crowded US shopping mall on Christmas Eve, police said yesterday, and an off-duty officer fatally shot a man who pointed a gun in his direction.

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Police said no one else was shot and there were no other reports of injuries.

The shooting was not a random act but the result of a feud among people who knew each other - though there was no indication it was gang-related, Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.

During the fight, a weapon was brandished and shots were fired about 2pm local time at Northlake Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr Putney said.

Mr Putney said Officer Thomas Ferguson was working off-duty at the mall when he heard the shots and confronted a man who pointed a gun at him.

The officer then "fired his service weapon", Mr Putney said. The suspect was given emergency aid, but medics pronounced him dead shortly afterwards. Police identified him as Daquan Antonio Westbrook (18).

Shoppers who were crowding the mall for last-minute gifts hid in stores and locked themselves inside. Police could be seen blocking mall entrances.

Jake Wallace (24), of Boone, North Carolina, was in a store when shots rang out nearby - about 30ft outside the store, near Journey's shoe store on the lower level, according to police.

"I thought someone dropped something. It was extremely loud," he said.

"You don't think 'gunshots'. But then I heard a rapid fire. Once I heard that, there was no mistaking it. It sounded like someone was unloading a clip."

Chaos erupted as shoppers dived for cover or tried to get out the door, Mr Wallace said.

Don Willis, who works as a valet at the mall, said he heard gunshots and then saw a wave of people exiting the mall.

"It was wild. I heard the first shot and I thought 'Wait... What was that?'. I started turning around and saw this huge line of people - wave of people - coming along."

Irish Independent

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