UPDATE: (6:25 a.m.) — Jermiah Johnson has been arrested and released from Mobile Metro jail. He has been charged with no insurance, no driver’s license, switched tags, improper lights, resisting arrest, attempting to elude, and theft.
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A gun accidentally went off at Bel Air Mall Monday morning, causing panic in the mall as shoppers feared someone was shooting at them.
News 5 spoke with some who were inside the mall during the chaos, they say they didn’t know what was happening.
“It was devastating because you didn’t know which way that individual was coming from,” said Pamela Bush, a witness.
It happened around 11 a.m. Monday, as holiday shoppers were grabbing their last-minute gifts. When the holiday bustle was interrupted as a gun went off in the middle of the mall.
“One of the sales personnel shouted run, run and just run and everybody started running and dropping everything that they had to get out of the store,” said Bush.
Shoppers vacated stores, unsure of what was happening.
“As I got in my car I saw people just running to their cars,” said Bush.
Mobile police say a mall security guard, who is an off duty Mobile police officer, was chasing a shoplifting suspect from Dillards.
The suspect has been identified as 28-year-old Jermiah Johnson. MPD released the following surveillance picture of the suspected shoplifter:
Police say the officer tased the suspect while trying to take him into custody.
There is video of the incident. In it, you see the officer and Johnson involved in a scuffle. Somehow, the gun was dropped and it goes off. Police say the suspect dropped the gun, which then went off.
No one was injured, and the suspect got away.
Some are still concerned after the incident.
“It just had me at a point where I’m not really ready to go back that way right now,” said Bush.
Police said Johnson will face theft of property, resisting arrest, and other possible charges if he’s arrested.
Anyone with information is asked to call MPD at 251-208-7211.
We reached out to the mall’s owner for a statement, they referred back to Mobile Police citing it being police matter. They did send us this, “per our Code of conduct, guns and weapons are strictly prohibited at the Shoppes at Bel Air. Our Code of Conduct is displayed throughout the shopping center and is available on our website. This applies everywhere on our property, including the sidewalks and parking lot.”