Tacoma, Wash. – Cell phone video captured the chaotic moments after a shooting at a Tacoma mall sent customers running for safety and forced many stores into lockdown.
According to eyewitnesses, shots were fired near the food court area of the mall on Saturday evening. FOX 13 News saw a family hiding behind a store and another person who captured part of the shooting on video as the gunman drove into the parking lot.
Anthony Ballenger said he was working on the patio at the Cheesecake Factory when shots rang out and panic broke out.
“We had guests crying. People were running out the back. It was very chaotic at the time,” Anthony said.
He says he witnessed an argument and saw a man pull out a gun and fire several shots. He captured one of the last rounds fired on video.
“It looks like there’s two different groups arguing back and forth, and they initially argued with each other and one guy had his hand on his coat,” Anthony said.
He says the first shooter had a sweater pulled over the lower half of his face.
“The shooter got behind a car and shot another person,” Anthony said.
He says hundreds of people, including many families and children who had come to enjoy the mall on Saturday, tried to flee to safety from the terrifying situation.
“They’re like, ‘Okay, everybody back,'” said mom Monica Gaspar, of Gig Harbor.
Monica says that while she and her family were in the express, they ran to the back room to hide and the shop was locked.
“We ran to the back and they locked us in there and someone instructed the women and children to be in a room, not near the door,” Monica said.
Monica got worried when her son was busy playing on his father’s phone.
“I didn’t want to worry too much in front of my kids, so I tried to stay positive,” she said.
Tacoma Police released a statement Saturday evening that shortly before 5:30 p.m., officers responded to a call of shots fired in the parking lot of a Tacoma mall. Two groups of men opened fire and escaped in cars. No injuries were reported at the time.
“Shockingly, people are still coming in with the police everywhere, sitting down to eat. But we didn’t close. A lot of officers went home,” Anthony said.
Previous coverage: Police are investigating a shooting at a Tacoma mall, and suspects
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Anthony praised his managers for keeping everyone safe and closed the store. He says they were concerned about the mental health of employees and offered support. Unfortunately, he says, the firing is a sign of the times.
“The world is changing. Unfortunately it’s something that happens all too often,” Anthony said.