Witnesses reported hearing several gunshots at the Great Mall found in the city of Milpitas, leaving thousands of residents fearing for their lives and calling their loved ones for their last goodbyes.
The Great Mall shooting
The officers who first responded to the scene at around 5:16 pm on Saturday said several gunshots scared Christmas shoppers inside the mall. Authorities discovered the 22-year-old man on the ground. The individual was rushed to the hospital with a non-fatal gunshot wound.
After the incident, numerous law enforcement teams went to the Great Mall to support the investigation. Authorities ordered stores inside the mall to shelter shoppers as the SWAT teams searched the area for potential suspects and victims.
Two other unrelated emergencies were found during the evacuation. Paramedics transported them to a local hospital by the responding paramedics.
At around 9:26 pm, officers completed their search and did not find a gunman, and there was no other victim of an act of violation. As investigators continued the search overnight, they discovered that the 22-year-old man who shot himself was the suspect that started the incident.
The mall was packed with terrified Christmas shoppers when the incident happened. Residents filled the establishment despite the newly released stay-at-home order. The chaos of the shooting forced shoppers and employees to evacuate the mall minutes after the gunshots were heard.
One of the shoppers, Angelo Balma, said, “People were running forward. People were running back, and people were falling.” Another resident who was crying said, “They just said active shooter, and we just ran, and I just ran into the store because the Levi’s guy said just run in the back.”
Tiffany Shuler, who was shopping at Gap when the incident happened, said, “The people who work at the store told everybody to run to the back of the store, so everyone was panicking, didn’t know what was going on,” CBS News reported.
An employee at a clothing store, Cecilia Centenl, said, “We just went to the backroom, barricaded all three doors that we had, and just waited for police to get there.” Other shoppers and employees hid in a hallway when Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department officers found them.