A fight inside at Mall of America escalated into gunfire Thursday afternoon, causing police to place the mall on lockdown for over an hour.
Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges said the incident started as a fight between two groups at the Nike store cash register around 4:15 p.m. One group left, but someone armed with a handgun circled back to fire at least three shots at the store before running away.
Law enforcement placed Mall of America on lockdown shortly after the shots were fired. Bloomington police then lifted the lockdown around 5:40 p.m., announcing that the area had been secured.
No confirmed injuries were reported. Police were searching for two young adult suspects, but Hodges said no arrests had been made as of Thursday night.
“Please turn yourself in,” Hodges said in a message to the suspects. “But should you choose not to, our officers, our partners, our detectives will not stop until we lock you up.”
Hodges said police responded to the Best Western hotel nearby, where the suspects were believed to have gone, but officers did not find them there.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS cameras captured a heavy police presence at the hotel that lasted for hours, with multiple agencies and SWAT teams stationed inside and outside the building. Some families staying at the hotel were barred from entering during the ordeal, but eventually, all were let inside.
Michelle Nelson of Hibbing and her family were staying at the Best Western for their visit to Mall of America.
“It was rattling,” Nelson said of her experience during the lockdown. “And then when we left [the mall] and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, we’re safe, things are good,’ and then I get to the hotel and all of the feelings come back again.”
Mall of America remained closed for the rest of the night, but mall spokesman Dan Jasper said the building will reopen Friday morning with increased security.
“People come to the mall every single day to create memories, to have fun, to spend time with their families and their loved ones, and I can’t imagine how traumatic an event like this is for them,” Jasper said. “We’re grateful that due to the quick action of law enforcement and mall security that nobody was seriously injured today.”
Hodges condemned the violence but said that even with a large security presence at the mall, there is only so much first responders can do to prevent acts of violence, emphasizing that Bloomington police were at the scene within 30 seconds.
“If someone decides that they don’t value human life and they choose to pull out a weapon,” Hodges said, throwing up his hands, “I don’t know what we can do.”
Police said this was an isolated incident and there is no immediate threat to the public.
Anyone with information is asked to call 952-563-4900.