LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Park City Center in Lancaster was closed due to a reported shooting according to a Sunday night Lancaster Bureau of Police report. Multiple ambulances were dispatched to the mall on Sunday around 2:26 p.m.
The Lancaster City Police Department confirmed there was an altercation between several men inside the mall’s JCPenny wing. During the incident, multiple shots were fired.
According to an Oct. 18 update from the Lancaster Bureau of Police, the initial altercation occurred between two men who know each other. At least one of the men, a 16-year-old Lancaster City resident, was carrying a concealed firearm, and there was a struggle for the gun.
“It was people who knew each other prior to engaging in this altercation. This was not a random act of violence or a random shooter who showed up at the mall and wanted to inflict as much harm as possible,” Glenn Stoltzfus, Community Outreach Lieutenant at the Lancaster Police Department, told abc27 on Tuesday.
According to Monday’s Lancaster Bureau of Police update, other people joined the altercation, and the armed man fired the gun, striking one of the people involved in the altercation. Another person then joined the struggle for the firearm, and another shot was fired.
An uninvolved bystander in a nearby store, who was armed with a legally possessed firearm, heard the first gunshots and joined the altercation, engaging the people fighting over the gun. The armed bystander fired their gun and struck one of the suspects.
The struggle ended, and the bystander waited at the scene until police and Park City Security arrived.
The original armed suspect who was injured in the shooting was hospitalized and is currently in police custody.
Two men involved in the altercation and a female who was walking through the mall were also shot. All of the injuries are considered non-life-threatening, and two of the victims have been released from the hospital as of 12:25 on Oct. 18. Two other women suffered minor injuries while running from the area.
Police are still be parsing through video and eyewitness testimony following the chaotic situation with many questions still needing answers. Perhaps the biggest—will the bystander, who police say is a 50-year-old man who’s been cooperating fully, be charged for firing his own gun at the shooting suspect?
Police say that’s up to District Attorney Heather Adams.
“She’ll have to weigh his actions and the steps he took to intervene and determine if that was lawful or unlawful,” Lieutenant Stoltzfus said.
In a statement, Adams told us her office is in the process of reviewing all the evidence and determining appropriate charges for the suspect and, potentially, the bystander.
Individuals who were in the mall during the shooting recounted their experiences to abc27.
“I want to say I heard at least three or four, at least three or four claps,” said Christian Zapata, who initially thought someone had just dropped something.
Zapata was on break from working at the Vans store but quickly made his way back when he saw people running.
“People at our store went into first initiative lockdown mode. We gathered all our customers. We went straight to the back rooms,” Zapata said. “We all just made sure everybody was huddled up and we let them know, hey we don’t know what’s going on precisely, but we’re going to make sure you guys are OK.”
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The Lancaster Bureau of Police said there was no immediate threat or danger to the public as of 3:11 p.m.
Sheyenne Wenner, an employee at Hollister, says once shots were fired the employees and customers were also told to run to the back room of their store. They were then evacuated once the scene was deemed safe.
“A lot of us are still shaken up, but our managers did a really good job. We checked everything before we shut it down completely,” Wenner said.
Zapata said it was scary, but he’s been trained for situations like this.
“I’m shocked but at the same time, I’m very satisfied with the response we gave to our customers and not only our store, but all the stores in the mall in general. I think we all responded very, very well,” Zapata said.
The mall reopened on Monday.
Although it is open again, a lot of people may be hesitant to go back to the mall, and Stoltzfus said he gets that. “It was traumatic to anyone who was injured and it can be traumatic to the community. Now they have to decide if they believe it is safe to go to the mall,” he said.
Investigators are processing the scene for evidence and gathering video footage from surveillance cameras as well as video recorded by customers at the mall. Investigators are also conducting numerous interviews with witnesses and employees. Police are still working to determine what led to the original altercation and subsequent shooting.
According to the Lancaster Bureau of Police, it appears that a total of approximately six gunshots were fired from two firearms, one being the original armed suspect’s firearm and the other being the bystander’s. Both guns were recovered at the scene by police.
This is a developing story. Additional information will be released when it becomes available. Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and on the go with the free abc27 Mobile app.