COLOMBIA, South Carolina
Police arrested a suspect on Saturday in connection with a shooting at a busy mall in South Carolina’s capital that left 14 people injured.
Columbia Police Chief WH “Skip” Holbrook said 22-year-old Jewayne M. Price, who was one of three people initially detained by law enforcement as a person of interest, remains in custody and is expected to be charged with unlawfully carrying a pistol.
It’s not immediately clear whether Price has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Fourteen people were injured in the shooting at Columbiana Center, Holbrook said in a news release on Saturday. The victims were between 15 and 73 years old.
Holbrook said no fatalities were reported, but nine people were shot and five people were injured as they tried to flee the mall for safety.
Police said the 73-year-old victim continues to receive medical treatment, but the other victims have been or will be released from local hospitals soon.
“We don’t believe it was random,” Holbrook said. “We believe they knew each other and something led to the shootings.”
Investigators believe at least three suspects displayed firearms inside the mall, but are working to determine how many suspects fired weapons. Police say at least one firearm was seized.
Daniel Johnson said he and his family were from Alabama and were eating in the food court when they first heard gunshots and started seeing people running.
Johnson said people were screaming for their children and spouses, knocking over tables in the food court as they fled.
“Everyone was trying to get out,” Johnson said. “When I was going out, you could see strollers turned over, people’s phones and keys left behind. It was kind of a hectic situation.
Johnson said he gathered his wife, daughter and son and started heading for the exit after letting the crowd loosen up a bit.
“My biggest thing was – and not to sound selfish – was making sure our family was okay and getting them out safely because that’s not something we like to do for the weekend. Easter.”
A heavy police presence continued in the area hours after the shooting, although officers began leaving more traffic on the streets surrounding malls and malls which are usually crowded on weekends. Officers were also stationed outside a nearby hotel designated as a staging area for those at the scene of the shooting and their families.
Workers from a few stores remained huddled in the nearly empty parking lot on Saturday night, waiting for police to let them inside to collect their car keys and belongings so they could leave. They said they heard and saw nothing during the shooting, but followed the mall’s alert system and were evacuated by police shortly thereafter. They declined to give their names, citing company policies.
“Today’s isolated and senseless act of violence is extremely upsetting and our hearts go out to all those affected,” Columbiana Center said in a statement. “We are grateful for the quick response and continued support from our security team and law enforcement partners.”
The shooting is the latest in a string of shootings at or near malls across the country.
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head on Wednesday outside the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn. His injuries were not believed to be life threatening. Officials said he was with a group of boys when they got into a fight with a second group.
A Southern California shoe store owner mistakenly shot a 9-year-old girl while shooting two shoplifters at the Victor Valley Mall on Tuesday, police said.
And earlier this month, police said six people were killed and 12 others injured in Sacramento, California, in a shootout between rival gangs as bars closed in a busy neighborhood near the Downtown Mall. Commons and State Capitol.