Police vehicles sit outside a JC Penney store entrance at Town Center at Aurora mall late Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in Aurora, (Photo: AP)
Gunfire broke out inside a mall in a Denver suburb on Friday, killing a 17-year-old boy and causing shoppers to scatter in search of hiding places, police officials and a witness said.
Aurora Police Department spokesman Anthony Camacho said officers were looking for at least one suspect who wielded a handgun in the shooting that occurred at 4 p.m. inside a JC Penney store at the Town Center at Aurora mall.
He said there was no ongoing threat inside the mall, which remained open except for the JC Penney. Yellow police tape cordoned off one entrance to the store.
“We do not believe there is a threat to the general public,” he told reporters.
Camacho said he could not immediately confirm how many people were involved in the shooting. Further details on the teenager who was killed weren’t immediately released.
It was the second shooting in the Aurora mall this month, Camacho said. A boy was injured in a Dec. 14 shooting at the mall.
In March, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in the mall’s parking lot.
Police also responded to a call of shots fired at the mall on Nov. 30, but found no evidence of a firearm.
Officers patrolling the mall on Friday responded to reports of gunfire inside the store and found the boy wounded, Camacho said. The teen was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Police were trying to determine how the shooter got away, he added. He asked anyone with information to contact police.
Shoppers were told to shelter in place as police rushed to the scene.
A witness, Jalen Martin, told The Denver Post that he was walking in the mall when he heard a noise and saw people running.
“A few of the people who were in the cluster said, ‘He’s shooting; he’s got a gun,’” Martin said.
He sprinted down an escalator and out of the mall as people ran into stores searching for places to hide, he said.
At least one police officer is assigned to the mall full-time, Camacho said. He assured residents that the mall is safe, especially during the holiday shopping season.
“We do feel that people can still come and shop here and bring their families here,” Camacho said.
The mall is in the same city where a gunman opened fire in a move theater in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.