BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (FOX 9) - A shooting at Mall of America sent the mall into lockdown on Thursday afternoon, with police calling it an isolated incident.
Shots fired inside MOA Nike store after dispute
Police don't believe anyone was hurt by gunfire when someone opened fire inside the Mall of America on Thursday, creating a panic and sending the mall into lockdown.
Officers responded to the mall around 4:15 p.m. for the shooting. Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges says it appears the shooting started with a conflict between two groups at the cash registers inside the Nike store. The conflict ended with one person pulling a gun and firing shots.
"They decided to demonstrate a complete lack of respect for human life," said Chief Hodges. "They decided to fire multiple rounds into a store with people."
Chief Hodges says, at this point in the investigation, it doesn't appear anyone was hurt by the gunfire. Still, police are searching for the suspects involved in the case.
Blood reportedly found at the scene appears to have been from a trip and fall injury to a guest leaving the mall.
Police search at Best Western
Following shots fired at the mall, police spent hours searching the Best Western hotel on Killebrew Drive, on the south side of the mall. Police say they had information that the suspects may have been at that location. But, ultimately, the search ended with no arrests.
Second shooting in less than a year
Neither the mall nor Chief Hodges had any solution for preventing future acts of violence like Thursday's shooting in the future.
Chief Hodges says his officers were not far from the mall when shots were fired and crews arrived on the scene within 30 seconds.
"If someone decides that they don't value human life, and they choose to pull out a weapon, I don't know what we can do," the chief said. "We train for this, we do this… but if an individual decides they have no regard for human life, I don't know any defense for that."
It doesn't appear anyone was hurt during Thursday's shooting. But that wasn't the case in December when another shooting at the Mall on New Year's Eve left two men with injuries. In that incident, someone opened fire on the third floor of the mall.
Speaking Thursday, mall spokesperson Dan Jasper says there will be an increase in security and police Friday morning when the mall reopens and in the coming days. Jasper says the mall will explore "all options" to keep mall guests safe. But, Jasper wasn't sure how feasible it'd be for the mall to add metal detectors at the doors.
"We continue to look at all security options and try to figure out what makes the most sense," said Jasper. "In honestly, this is an open building in an open society. Metal detectors aren't common in retailers or food retailers or in most places that we go. But we have a lot of other security apparatus in place including highly trained officers, including security cameras, including other technology that we use that the guest never sees, that we implement to keep them safe."
Witness hear ‘pop, pop, pop’ outside Nike store
On video from inside the mall, you could clearly hear shots fired from near the Nike store. A witness told FOX 9 the shooting happened in the Nike store. Two groups started arguing and then the witness heard several shots fired, took cover and ran out the front door of the store, the witness said.
MOA shooting captured on video
After the shooting was reported, police said numerous officers were responding to the scene, Bloomington police tweeted at 4:51 p.m. Thursday. Videos from social media then showed cops with guns sweeping the mall after the shooting was reported.
Soon after, Mall of America addressed the incident, tweeting: "Mall of America is currently under lockdown. There is a confirmed isolated incident in a tenant space. Please remain in the closest secure location until the lockdown has been lifted. Please stay tuned for additional updates."
Posts on social media show chaos and confusion as people rushed out of the building. According to posts on social media from FOX 55's Andy Paras, cops with rifles are in the mall and a message to people on the mall PA system instructed them to take shelter.
Employee says MOA not safe anymore
A Shake Shack employee told FOX 9 this is the second shooting at the mall she's experienced, and she doesn't feel safe anymore.
Governor Walz responds to shooting
In a statement issued Thursday evening, Governor Walz made another pledge to take on violent crime in the Twin Cities:
"Tonight’s violence at the Mall of America is unacceptable. These brazen incidents will not be tolerated. State resources are on the scene, we have offered our full support, and we will maintain close communication with Bloomington police to apprehend those responsible. We are committed to maintaining an unprecedented state law enforcement presence in the Twin Cities until we put a stop to this rise in crime."
Police ask for tips
Anyone with information on the shooting that can help people make an arrest is asked to call 952-563-4900. Chief Hodges also called on the people involved to turn themselves in.