BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Complete chaos found inside the largest mall in the United States on Thursday after gunshots were heard in the Northwest wing. Bloomington Police say shots were fired shortly after 4 p.m. inside the Mall of America.
Families were separated as they ran to safety, including Kate Rutledge.
“We just ran,” Rutledge said. “It was a herd of people going down the hall. People were falling. People were ducking down with their heads on the ground. It was chaos.”
Rutledge made it out with her son, but her daughter was in the store with their foreign exchange student. They were escorted into a lockdown that lasted two hours.
“It’s one of the busiest times of the year,” Nike employee Tyana Maddox/Sanders said.
Maddox/Sanders said she heard two groups of men arguing in the store. One man walked outside the store then came back in. Shortly afterwards, shots rang out. A coworker of hers, Isaiah Nelson, recognized what was happening immediately.
“I just started yelling, ‘Get in the back, get in the back,’” Nelson said.
Nelson says people in the store were crying, and calling their loved ones as they waited to hear what was going on.
“I saw people posting things on Twitter,” Jose Niebla, a customer who was inside the Nike lockdown.
Niebla explained how upsetting it was to see children impacted by the incident.
“A lot of families. A lot of kids crying,” Niebla said.
Michelle Smith Johnson heard the gun shots, and ran with her family from the third floor.
“I just encourage everybody to make sure you tell your loved ones you love them on a daily basis,” Smith-Johnson said.
She is visiting from Kansas, and was at the mall doing back to school shopping.
“You think you're going to be safe but there is no guarantee anymore."
Bloomington Police said the shooting started after an altercation between two parties at a cash register in the Nike Store. One party (with two people) walked out of the store, but one of them in the group turned around and fired a pistol into the store "full of people" before running away.
Police say they are still looking for the shooter and the other person but have not yet provided a description of the suspects.
The Mall of America will reopen at 10 a.m. on Friday with an increased security and police presence.