Monday, November 21, 2005

Suspect Arrested in Wash. Mall Shootings

TACOMA, Wash. - A gunman opened fire inside a busy shopping mall Sunday, wounding several people in the halls and taking three people hostage in a music store before police arrested him, authorities said.

Witnesses described hearing a noise and then seeing a man walking backward through the mall, firing.

At least six people were injured, one critically, as shoppers and store clerks scrambled for cover.

Tacoma Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said the suspect, arrested about four hours after the shooting began, was a young man but he had no other details about him or his possible motives.

Police were interviewing the victims and hostages, he said.

While the suspect was still inside the Sam Goody music store, employee Joe Hudson was able to pick up the phone and say he and others had been taken hostage. Hudson said little more but could be hearing telling others that he was talking to The Associated Press.

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Authorities got the call about 12:15 p.m. that shots had been fired inside the Tacoma Mall. The caller said there was a gunman, "He was in the mall, walking along, firing," Fulghum said.

State Patrol and police units from nearby agencies clustered around an entrance at the south end.

Inside the mall, Stacy Wilson, 29, of Bonney Lake, heard a popping noise and turned around.

"I saw the gunman randomly shooting. I ran with a group of women to Victoria's Secret," Wilson said. She said they crouched behind a wall in the store, and when the shooting stopped, an employee ran out and closed a security gate at the front.

Wilson said she heard 15 to 20 shots.

"He was walking backward and shooting. I couldn't see his face," she said. "Everyone was running and screaming."


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Betz Dejarnatt, who works at the J.C. Penney store, said workers were herded into dressing rooms and offices, then police took them outside to a parking lot.

Six people were taken to hospitals, most with minor injuries, according to Tacoma Fire Department Deputy Chief John Lendosky. One person was in critical condition at Tacoma General Hospital, spokesman Todd Kelley said.

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