COLUMBIA, Md. – Gunfire erupted in a Columbia, Maryland, shopping mall Saturday morning, leaving at least three people dead, according to the Howard County Police Department’s Twitter account.
Police entered the mall and found three people dead, including one person who was found near a gun and ammunition and believed to be the shooter.
There was no indication of additional shots being fired and the scene was secure shortly before 1 p.m., police said.
Two victims with minor injuries were transported to Howard County General Hospital, police said. They were not directly involved in the shooting.
Mall employees told CNN the gunfire erupted near a second-floor food court in late morning, sending shoppers and workers running for cover.
“It’s a mall shooting,” one mall worker, identified only as K.T., told CNN. “No one knows what’s going on. In today’s world, you hear gunshots and you run.”
The staccato of gunfire was followed by the cries and screams of children and adults running or ducking for cover under tables, the employees said.
“A lot of kids were crying and mothers were holding onto them,” K.T. said. “I wasn’t worried about me. I was just making sure everybody was OK.”
Once the shooting stopped, SWAT team members moved from store to store.
“It was just crazy,” said K.T., who snapped a picture of a bullet-riddled wall near the scene of the shooting. “It’s one of those things you see on TV but never expect you’ll go through.”
Colin Reedy, another employee, said he heard a couple of booms and thought the sounds were from construction. Then, there were several more booms and people were screaming and scattering, he said.
The manager of the store where Reedy works closed the front gate, he said. When a police officer, not in uniform, came to the gate later to say the mall had been secured, Reedy said workers didn’t believe he was a cop.
Authorities initially reported that an active shooter was on the second floor of the sprawling mall in Columbia in Howard County, according to CNN affiliate WBAL. Local scanner reports had authorities requesting multiple mass casualty units.
But one of the bodies believed to be the shooter was located near a gun and ammunition, police said. The identification of the person was unknown.
A 911 call about shots fired at the mall was made at 11:15 a.m., police said.
Images on Twitter reportedly from the scene showed mall employees and customers hiding in a stock room. The mall was on lockdown. Another Twitter image reportedly from the scene showed a bullet-riddled wall.
The Howard County Fire Department on Twitter reported an active shooter situation.
Both the Howard County police and fire departments were on the scene.
The fire department via Twitter advised people to avoid the area.