Charlotte, NC - Police confirm they're investigating a shooting that happened around 2 p.m. Christmas Eve inside Northlake Mall, as several people were inside the mall shopping for last minute Christmas gifts. CMPD confirms Daquan Antonio Westbrook,18, is dead, and 2 others went to the hospital with minor injuries.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the incident was not a random act of violence. Police in Charlotte say a shooting that forced the closure of a mall on Christmas Eve was the result of a long-standing dispute among a group of people. Chief Putney says a group of subjects with a history of feuding had shown up at the Northlake Mall and an altercation broke out about 2 p.m. Thursday. They ended up using weapons "as a means to settle the dispute," Putney said.
Putney says Thomas Ferguson, an off-duty officer nearby heard gunshots and responded to the scene. Putney says the officer confronted the armed person who pointed a gun in his direction, and the officer then "fired his service weapon." CMPD says other off-duty officers gave the suspect emergency aid, but medics pronounced him dead shortly afterward. Putney also says the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, which is standard procedure.
The FBI is now assisting CMPD with the investigation. Watch CMPD's press conference here:
Mobile app users, click here to watch the press conference. CMPD says officer Ferguson has been with the police department since July 1996. The officers were not injured. CMPD says there was never an active shooter inside the mall.
Emergency medical services official Jeff Keith confirmed Thursday afternoon that after the incident, people were locked in stores, where they were hiding to try to remain safe. He says officials let them know it was safe to come out.
Meghan Garrett, who works inside the mall said, "I was talking to my boss having a conversation and she stopped for a second and she said wait hold on, because she was looking out behind me and we see a mass crowd running into our store and then we hear about five gunshots." Several shoppers said they saw people running out of the crowded mall.
One mother tells FOX 46 her daughter, who works at the mall, heard several shots inside the mall. She says people hid in stores while others ran out of the mall for cover.
Another witness tells FOX 46 her friend came into the store where she was working. The next thing she knew, her friend was laying on the floor with gunshot wounds. She says her friend is a new father.
Jasmine, an employee at Aldo inside the mall, told Fox News there were about five or six gunshots. Aldo employees immediately closed the store gate and went to the back room, Jasmine said. Eventually, mall security came and told people to evacuate, she said.
Jasmine said emergency crews had a stretcher near the scene of the shooting.
Northlake Mall was evacuated, and police taped off the area, closing the mall early on one of its busiest shopping days of the year.
The mall was packed Christmas Eve as people tried to finish up their Christmas shopping.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.