As the sound of gunfire pierced through the parking lot of Allen Premium Outlets in Texas, panicked shoppers screamed and ducked behind rows of cars while others sprinted across the lot, a witness video shows.
Meanwhile, inside the sprawling complex, employees, shoppers and families with young children bolted and hid in storage areas or back hallways, witnesses told CNN.
By the end of the deadly rampage, eight people were killed and at least seven others were wounded from the massacre in the affluent suburb of Allen, about 25 miles north of Dallas.
The gunman was killed by an Allen Police Department officer who was at the mall on an unrelated call, police said. Investigators believe the shooter was acting alone.
8 killed and 7 wounded in Texas mall shooting. The gunman is also dead
A photo obtained by CNN shows what appears to be the gunman lying on the ground after being shot, with an AR-15-style firearm nearby. He is clad in black body armor and appears to have several extra magazines strapped in his chest gear.
At least nine people were rushed to trauma facilities, two of whom have since died, Allen Fire Chief Jonathan Boyd said. Of the surviving victims, three were in critical condition and undergoing surgery and four were stable as of Saturday night, he said.
A Dallas-area medical group said it treated victims as young as 5 years old.
Witness Kingsley Ezeh said he was walking inside the mall when people behind him suddenly began running.
“I turned around and I saw two ladies rushing towards me, and then one was like ‘Someone’s shooting! Someone’s shooting!’” he said.
Behind the fleeing women, Ezeh said he could see a man holding his neck, which “blood (was) just dripping down.”
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Allen Premium Outlets
Ezeh huddled with others in the back of a store for about an hour before police came to get them, he said. Other witnesses reported sheltering in place for up to two hours as police cleared the scene.
Aerial video showed hundreds of shoppers, some with their hands up, weaving through police cars and ambulances as they were escorted from the scene. The footage also appears to show at least three bodies covered by sheets outside the mall.
Shoppers raise their hands as they leave the Allen Premium Outlets after the mass shooting Saturday.LM Otero/AP
Republican US Rep. Keith Self, whose congressional district includes Allen, said the attack could have been deadlier if not for the quick response from law enforcement.
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“We owe a debt of gratitude to the first responders that ran toward the gunfire and acted swiftly to neutralize the threat,” Self said.
But the carnage marked yet another massacre at a public place where Americans had long felt safe – such as supermarkets, schools and Fourth of July parades.
It also happened in the same week a gunman opened fire in a medical facility in Atlanta, killing one woman and wounding four others.
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The US has suffered almost 200 mass shootings within the first five months of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both the nonprofit and CNN define mass shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
Gov. Greg Abbott will visit Allen later on Sunday, he told Fox News.
“There are questions that are lingering that the families want answers to,” Abbott said, such as “‘Why did this happen? Why did the gunman do this? How did this happen?’ And I know that those families need an answer as quickly as possible.”
‘The shooting happened over and over’
Kimberly Blakey said she and her 14-year-old daughter were among the crowd trying to flee the parking lot during the attack.
“The shooting happened over and over and over again. It was nonstop,” she said.
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In her haste to get away, Blakey initially drove toward the gunfire before her daughter told her to turn around. But as she drove toward the exit, she said, they became stuck behind a scrum of other cars trying to do the same.
That’s when she felt her car get hit twice by gunfire.
“I told my daughter to get down,” Blakey said. “She did, and I could hear her start praying.”
The pair managed to get out of the parking lot and didn’t stop until they got home, even though the car’s flat-tire warning light had come on.
“We were on a mission to get out of there,” Blakey said.
At the mall’s Fatburger restaurant, employee Tiffany Gipson and customers hid in a hallway behind the restaurant.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like this,” Gipson said. “This is very traumatic for me, and I already suffer from anxiety and seizures.”