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Police search for multiple suspects in South Florida mall shooting

At least one person was wounded at Gardens Mall in South Florida according to Palm Beach Gardens police, who were searching for two suspects.
Police search for multiple suspects in South Florida mall shooting
Posted at 7:43 PM, Feb 15, 2024

A South Florida mall was reopened on Thursday after a shooting that sent terrified shoppers running for cover. 

One person was wounded in the targeted shooting on Wednesday afternoon at the Gardens Mall, and police are now searching for two persons of interest, Palm Beach Gardens Police said in a statement Thursday. Some shoppers were delayed by several hours after hiding in back rooms, before heading to their cars to be searched before they left the mall area. 

The shooting happened just after 2:30 p.m. ET in the west section of the indoor shopping mall, Maj. Paul Rogers said. Police, who were already inside the mall at the time, locked down the building while searching for the shooter, Rogers said.

One victim was later located at a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound that was not considered life-threatening, police said.

"Our investigation indicates this was a targeted shooting, not a random act, and was not an active shooter incident," Rogers said.

By Thursday police were still searching for at least two men considered persons of interest in the police investigation. One suspect was described as a male wearing a purple-hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The other male was said to have been wearing a green long-sleeve shirt with a multicolored design on the front and blue jeans.

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Scripps News West Palm Beach spoke to shoppers who were inside the mall on Wednesday afternoon who said they heard what sounded like multiple gunshots.

Toni Lester said she had just left one of the department stores and was walking to a coffee shop on the second floor when she heard a "big bang," not immediately recognizing the noise as possible gunfire. Moments later, she said she witnessed "numerous people" running through the mall warning other shoppers of a shooter inside.

"They said, 'There's a shooter in the mall. Get out!'" Lester said.

Lester said she was escorted outside before police searched her vehicle. Police tape was seen surrounding multiple restaurants, and officers put police markers in the parking lot.

Kemen Fearon, an employee at one of the mall's businesses, was hosting a Valentine's Day wine tasting and said he saw "50 to 100 people just run," and said he helped people inside a restaurant before locking the doors.

Another man said he was eating a slice of pizza when he heard multiple gunshots and then saw people running in his direction. 

"It seemed more like screams of people just in terror trying to leave," he said.

Another man who was shopping for a Valentine's Day gift inside a cosmetics store at the mall said workers suddenly rushed everyone to the back of the store and jammed the door closed. 

He said a SWAT team showed up later and escorted them out of the mall.

This story was originally published by Scott Sutton at Scripps News West Palm Beach

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