Chaos erupted at the Danbury Fair Mall in Connecticut late Wednesday night after an unidentified gunman opened fire. A 16-year-old girl was injured during the altercation, but police believe that the shooting was an isolated incident. The investigation is ongoing.
No suspects have been arrested in connection to the shooting. Police believe that a fight broke out between at least eight people outside the Macy’s entrance causing one person to pull a gun and fire a shot.
The eight suspects fled the scene after the shooting and police are actively looking for them. Video footage obtained by the police show at least one of the suspects leaving the mall in a vehicle.
Police also believe that the 16-year-old girl was not the intended target and just an innocent bystander. The Danbury Police Department obtained video surveillance footage of a man with a hammer running away from the scene.
“It appears she was innocent. It appears there was another target. We do have some information that a male was running from the scene carrying a hammer. We believe he may have been the target but she got in the way,” said Danbury Police Chief, Patrick Ridenhour.
When police arrived at the mall, they found the girl conscious and alert. She was rushed to Danbury Hospital where she was treated. Police report that she was shot in the upper chest. At the moment her condition is unknown.
Manny Maldonado, 24, had never heard a gunshot before Wednesday night and thought the noise was just some people causing a ruckus, which wasn’t unusual. “This was a little more concerning than what the sounds are that we usually hear at the Danbury Fair Mall. People were a lot more frantic,” said Maldonado.
Following the shooting, the Danbury Fair Mall was placed on lockdown while police searched the building. Those who were still inside the mall were permitted to leave at around 8:30 p.m. Police investigated but found no other threats inside the mall. Nearly 50 people waited in the mall parking lot to hear from their family members and co-workers still locked inside.
Jojo Keane was inside the Macy’s when the shooting occurred. She originally thought that the noise she heard was just something falling. When she realized that it was a gunshot she fled the mall like many other customers.
Olivia Navario was at Build-a-Bear Workshop when she heard the gunshot. “I just remember hearing ‘boom,’” she said. The 16-year-old girl hid in the back of another store.
Many mall workers took action after hearing the gunshot and were able to bring customers to a safe area. Lexi Walsh and her co-worker, Mia Visuan, from American Eagle were scheduled to clock out when they heard the gunshot. Instead of leaving the mall, they took customers and workers to the back storeroom and locked themselves in there until they knew it was safe. They stayed there for nearly an hour.
Besides the 16-year-old girl who was shot in the chest, no other injuries were reported. In a press conference Wednesday night, Ridenhour praised the work of the Danbury Police Department and other law enforcement that helped them after the shooting.
Police from Danbury, Bethel and Brookfield, Putnam County in NY, State, and the FBI all arrived at the Danbury Fair Mall to make sure everyone was OK. In the early hours of the police search, many officers kept their weapons drawn at the Macy’s entrance.
“Hopefully, they’ll never have to go through something like this again,” Ridenhour said at the press conference.
As of right now, no arrested have been made, but officers continue to investigate this tragic incident.