Witnesses of deadly Texas mall shooting describe the chaotic and horrifying scene
(CNN) — As the sound of gunfire began to resonate through the Allen Premium Outlets parking lot near Dallas, panicked shoppers screamed and ducked behind rows of cars as others sprinted across the lot, one witness video shows.
Inside the sprawling complex in suburban Allen, employees, shoppers and families with young children bolted to take cover in storage areas or back hallways, witnesses told CNN.
Eight people were killed and at least seven others wounded when a gunman opened fire at the outlet mall Saturday afternoon, marking the latest act of gun violence to shatter an American community as they are enjoying activities in public places.
The gunman was killed by an Allen Police Department officer who was at the mall on an unrelated call, police said. Investigators believe the shooter was acting alone.
A photo obtained by CNN shows what appears to be the gunman lying on the ground after being shot, with an AR-15-style firearm nearby. He is clad in black body armor and appears to have several extra magazines strapped in his chest gear.
At least nine people were rushed to trauma facilities, two of whom have since died, Allen Fire Chief Jonathan Boyd said. Of the surviving victims, three were in critical condition and undergoing surgery and four were stable as of Saturday night, he said.
A Dallas-area medical group said it was treating victims as young as 5 years old on Saturday.
One witness, Kingsley Ezeh, told CNN he was walking inside the mall when people behind him suddenly began running.
“I turned around and I saw two ladies rushing towards me, and then one was like ‘Someone’s shooting! Someone’s shooting!’” he said.
Behind the fleeing women, Ezeh said he could see a man holding his neck, which “blood (was) just dripping down.”
Ezeh huddled with others in the back of a store for about an hour before police came to get them, he said. Other witnesses reported sheltering in place for up to two hours as police cleared the scene.
Aerial video showed hundreds of shoppers, some with their hands up, weaving through police cars and ambulances as they were escorted from the scene. The footage also appears to show at least three bodies covered by sheets outside the mall.
Police believe they have identified the vehicle of the deceased suspect, which was being examined by the bomb squad as a precaution, a law enforcement source tells CNN.
Rep. Keith Self, whose congressional district includes Allen, said the attack may have been more deadly if not for the quick response from law enforcement.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the first responders that ran toward the gunfire and acted swiftly to neutralize the threat,” Self, a Republican, said.
The attack is the latest in a relentless series of gun violence across the US that has inflicted terror on communities as they carry out their daily lives in schools, supermarkets, parks and shopping malls. It comes just days after authorities say an enraged gunman in Atlanta, Georgia, opened fire in a medical facility, killing one woman and wounding four others.
There have been nearly 200 mass shootings in the nation so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
‘I could hear her start praying’
Kimberly Blakey said she and her 14-year-old daughter were among the crowd trying to flee the parking lot during the attack.
“The shooting happened over and over and over again. It was non-stop,” she said.
In her haste to get away, Blakey initially drove towards where the shots were coming from before her daughter told her to turn around. But as she drove toward the exit, she said, they became stuck behind a scrum of other cars trying to do the same.
That’s when she felt her car get hit twice by gunfire.
“I told my daughter to get down. She did, and I could hear her start praying,” Blakey said.
The pair was able to get out of the parking lot and didn’t stop until they reached home, even when Blakey realized her car’s flat-tire warning light had come on.
“We were on a mission to get out of there,” she said.
The shooting was deeply disturbing, said Fatburger employee Tiffany Gipson, who told CNN she and other customers hid in a hallway behind their mall restaurant.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like this. This is very traumatic for me and I already suffer from anxiety and seizures,” Gipson said.