A man is in serious condition after they were shot in the middle of the Tacoma Mall food court on Friday.
In the moments to follow, there was panic and shoppers took cover, sending the entire mall into lockdown.
The shooting happened around 7:08 p.m. Friday evening.
A KIRO 7 TV crew at the scene found out it all stemmed from an argument between two people.
Shoppers told KIRO 7 that it was only a matter of seconds before things turned chaotic.
“Everybody was terrified. Everybody started running and screaming. It was crazy,” said Jessica Freer, a mall worker.
“It was super fast. I didn’t even know anything was happening until she started yelling for me, and by then the doors were already closed,” said Heather Cruz, who works at the mall.
As people scrambled for safety, the entire mall was put on lockdown, and hundreds, if not thousands, of shoppers took cover in backrooms.
“They got Christmas stuff and all the inventory and then you have about, I don’t know, 60 people squished in there,” one shopper who was leaving told KIRO 7.
According to a report from The News Tribune, a 28-year-old woman shopping with a friend at Bath and Body Works said she heard up to 15 gunshots.
Witnesses said at least 15 shots went off in the area near the food court.
Word of the shooting spread very fast as some off-duty workers received frantic text messages from their fellow employees.
“I was extremely worried. As soon as I saw and heard about it, I texted my boss and she let me know everyone was OK, locked down in the back with customers and everything,” Marques Johnson said.
Johnson told KIRO 7 that he and his co-workers had practiced an active shooter situation only two weeks ago.
“I’m not going to put my life on the line for merchandise at a place that I work. You know, I’m not going to do it. I have a family to go home to,” Johnson said.
It took more than an hour for police to determine that the situation was not a mass shooting. However, for those who work at the mall and were shopping Friday, that information was very little comfort.
“People have kids here and like, people got to shop in peace. It’s a lot of hate going on,” said Eli Cofield, a mall worker.
No description of the shooter has been made available as law enforcement is working to find the suspect.