Areas of the Columbiana Centre in Columbia’s Harbison area were evacuated Saturday night after a shooting.
No one was injured after two people fired weapons, police said.
Witnesses told authorities that “two people pulled guns and fired into the air,” after a fist fight outside Kay Jewelers inside the mall, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.
There were no indications that other shots were fired after the initial burst of gunfire, Holbrook said but some witnesses told of hearing three of four rounds of fire.
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Authorities also have been checking with local hospitals, but there was no indication that anyone was injured from the shooting.
Authorities are looking for two male suspects, Holbrook said. And while there is no indication that the incident was gang related, Holbrook said, nothing is being ruled out.
Holbrook later released a description of the two suspects, both young African-American men. One wore acid washed jeans and jacket and a red T-shirt, the chief said. The other had on a dark hoodie.
Earlier, Holbrook said there were three suspects. But one turned out to be a person who tried to intervene in the argument.
Police do not have a description of a fleeing vehicle. Police still have not finished their review of security footage from in the mall and from nearby stores, Holbrook said.
People at the busy mall when the incident occurred describe a chaotic rush toward the exits.
Katrina Smith told The State newspaper she and some friends had just finished eating dinner at the food court, when she heard what sounded like gunshots.
They ran toward the the food court exit, she said, and two of her friends stayed behind to help an elderly woman who had fallen get back onto her feet.
It took them a while to get to their car, but then they sat in traffic for about a half-hour, watching more than 20 police cars race past them.
Jeane Garrett told The State she was shopping at Claire’s when the guns were fired. Everyone rushed toward the back of the store where they waited until authorities told them they could leave.
“We then ran out of Claire’s with our hands in the air. We were then frisked before being allowed to go to our cars,” Garrett said in an email.
Lindsay Long is a clerk at the store Justice. She told The State that around 7:15 p.m. she heard two gunshots and then saw people running through the Mall. At that point, she said, her store’s employees “went through with our emergency procedures.”
Panic broke out as shoppers scrambled for cover into nearby stores.
“People were running in all different directions,” Holbrook said.
Even almost two hours after the shots, police were going store to store and to cars in the parking lot to let remaining people know it was safe to leave the chief said.
A temporary reunification center was set up at a Toys R Us store near the mall entrance off Harbison Boulevard.
A State Law Enforcement Division helicopter was circling the mall’s airspace as Holbrook addressed reporters.
Traffic along Harbison, Columbiana Drive and even parts of I-26 was slowed to a crawl as police from a half dozen local and state agencies routed drivers from the mall.
If you were in the Mall when these events unfolded, please email us at email@example.com