At least two people are dead and four others — including a police officer — are injured after a shopping mall shooting Monday in Boise, Idaho, authorities said.
At a news conference, Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee said officers responded to a report of shots fired at Boise Towne Square shopping mall at about 1:50 p.m. The mall is located in Idaho’s largest city and is the city’s largest mall.
When police arrived, authorities say they saw someone who matched the description of a suspect. An exchange of gunfire followed, which led to one police officer being injured, according to Lee.
Lee said a suspect is in custody and believes there was only one shooter. Authorities haven’t identified a motive for the shooting.
“We really cannot at this time speak to any motivation behind it,” Lee said, calling any speculation premature. “I cannot stress enough how traumatic this event is for the community at large, as well as for those that were witnesses, or are the families of those involved or involved themselves.”
Andi Petersen, 25, was visiting a friend who worked at the mall with her boyfriend. She left through the Macy’s entrance to put some bags in her car. Seconds later, she heard gunshots fired inside the mall.
“I’m from the city – I’m not familiar with the sound of gunshots,” she told USA TODAY. “My boyfriend, who’s from the country, knew right away.”
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Petersen and her boyfriend ran about half a block to a Halloween store nearby, and heard about 10 to 15 more gunshots from inside the mall. They, along with the Halloween store employees, locked themselves inside for about an hour before the police said they could leave.
Petersen also heard about six gunshots down the road, outside the mall.
“I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until we left the mall, and then it sunk in,” she said. “And now we’re just trying to pick up the pieces of something that almost happened.”
Petersen, born and raised in Boise, would go to the Towne Square shopping mall every Black Friday and can recount memories of meeting new friends there.
“I don’t think I’ll ever step foot in that mall again,” she said.
“Which gunshot did I hear that killed somebody?” Petersen asked. “I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
About a quarter of a mile away from the mall, officers closed part of a road near a busy intersection so they could investigate a second crime scene related to the shooting incident. Officers at the second crime scene declined to answer questions about the investigation other than to confirm it was related to the shooting investigation.
Idaho Governor Brad Little called the shooting “unthinkable” in a tweet Monday afternoon, adding that those injured in the shooting are in his prayers.
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After the shooting, several witnesses stood in the rain outside the entrance to Macy’s — one of five large department stores at the mall — waiting to be interviewed by police or told they could leave. Patrol cars from several agencies, ambulances and fire trucks filled a section of the mall parking lot.
Officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting in the investigation.
One person at the mall posted a video on Rumble, an online video platform, where several shots can be heard ringing throughout the mall.
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean spoke at a news conference after the shooting.
“As we think about those that were hurt today, my heart goes out to those who sheltered in place, those who saw this crime, those who weren’t sure if they’d see a loved one again,” she said.
McLean added: “I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain and trauma you experienced.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.