BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Reports of possible shots fired at an upscale Florida mall sent alarmed shoppers running and triggered a lockdown that dragged on for hours Sunday, a police chief said, adding a SWAT team’s search of the complex found no immediate evidence of any shooting.
One person was injured, apparently leaving the building, police said.
Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander told a late evening news briefing that authorities found no evidence to confirm the initial report. But he said investigators were continuing to examine mall surveillance video seeking to pinpoint the source of an apparent loud noise that panicked mallgoers into an afternoon exodus from the Town Center at Boca Raton.
Soon after receiving the reports, police tweeted for those still in the mall to shelter in place. The agency subsequently tweeted that a SWAT team had entered the mall for an exhaustive search and then added no active shooter was present.
“Some noise went off. We have not recovered any shell casings, or any rounds of ammunition. We are characterizing it as a suspicious incident,” the chief said Sunday evening.
Alexander also said one person his department previously tweeted as having a possible gunshot wound had, in fact, a traumatic injury from apparently “hitting his head on the door” as he attempted to leave. The man was being treated at a nearby medical center, the chief said, declining to name the person or elaborate on his injuries.
Some people posted video on social media showing what they said were cars streaming away from the mall as armed police arrived. Other online posts showed footage of people hurrying away on foot.
Though many left the mall immediately Sunday afternoon, some were still inside hours later as they still awaited evacuation, Alexander said. He urged those still inside to remain patient while police continued an exhaustive search to “clear every single space.”
“A lot of people have been waiting patiently to get out,” he said of those who sheltered in the mall Sunday afternoon.
Asked Sunday evening how many remained in the building after nightfall, he said he didn’t have an exact number and added, “there’s not a significant number of people left” inside.
Alexander said authorities still are trying to pinpoint exactly what set off the disturbance Sunday afternoon. He said no suspects had been identified as of Sunday evening and urged anyone with information to call a public tip line.
The police chief also said federal, county and other law enforcement agencies were assisting in the investigation.
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