A manhunt is underway Saturday for a gunman police said opened fire at a mall in Washington state, killing four women and one man, authorities said.
The shooting took place around 7 p.m. Friday in the makeup department of a Macy’s store at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., about 60 miles north of Seattle, authorities said in a news conference Saturday morning.
“There are people waking up this morning and their world has changed forever,” an emotional Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said. “This was a senseless act. It was the world knocking on our doorstep and it came to our little community here.”
The mayor added that authorities would come together “to bring this son-of-a-b—h to justice.”
According to footage from mall security cameras, the shooter entered the mall without a rifle, said Lt. Chris Cammock, a spokesman for the Mount Vernon Police Department, which is assisting with the investigation.
About 10 minutes later, the shooter is picked up again on camera entering Macy’s, this time holding a rifle, Cammock said. He fired multiple times in the department store, striking four women and one man, who ranged in age from teenager to seniors, he said.
Police recovered a rifle from the scene, Cammock said, but would not elaborate on its type or how many lines were fired.
Police described the shooter as a Hispanic male wearing a dark shirt and dark shorts and armed with a rifle, according to several Twitter posts from Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Francis.
Police have not yet identified the shooter or a possible motive, but believe only one person was involved. The suspected shooter was last seen walking toward Interstate 5 from Cascade Mall, authorities said.
On Saturday morning, Cammock said the basis for the shooter’s ethnicity was primarily based on security-camera images of a man with “dark hair” and with a darker complexion.
“I suppose the race could be anything,” Cammock said. “You can take a look at the photo yourself.”
A helicopter, search teams and K-9 units scoured the area for the shooter, who fled on foot, authorities said.
It took 11 search teams and two K-9 teams several hours to clear and secure 434,000 square feet of the mall Friday night, according to Francis. Authorities said they spent over an hour interviewing more than 20 witnesses at the mall.
There were initially conflicting reports of how many victims were killed, but late Friday police confirmed that four women had died inside the mall. An injured male, the fifth victim, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, county emergency officials said, but died there Saturday morning. Police did not release the names or ages of those who died.
As of Saturday morning, the bodies of the four female victims were still inside the mall, Skagit County coroner Hayley Thompson said at a press conference Saturday. Thompson said when she gained access to the scene, the four female victims would be taken to Skagit Valley Hospital and undergo autopsies.
SOURCE: Amy B Wang
The Washington Post