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Shooting at California mall terrifies Christmas shoppers who had to shelter in place

Shooting sparks chaos at California mall
Shooting sparks chaos at California mall 02:52

A shooting at the Great Mall near San Jose, California, left thousands of people emotionally distressed, sheltering-in-place and calling home to tell families they loved them, authorities said Sunday, according to CBS San Francisco.

Officers responded around 5:16 p.m. local time on Saturday to numerous reports of shots fired inside the Great Mall located in the city of Milpitas. When they arrived, they found a 22-year-old San Francisco man suffering from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and was later hospitalized.

Several law enforcement agencies responded to the Great Mall to assist. The stores were asked to shelter in place while the interior of the mall was evacuated and searched by SWAT teams for suspects and any additional victims.

Two unrelated medical emergencies occurred during the evacuation. Both victims were transported to a local hospital by paramedics.

Officers completed the search at 9:26 p.m. with no gunman being located. Further investigation overnight by detectives determined that the 22-year-old man who had shot himself and was not the victim of an act of violence.

The chaotic, terrifying event unfolded during the crush of holiday shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, and shoppers say the mall was packed at the time of the shooting — despite California's stay-at-home orders.

Terrified employees and shoppers ran out of the mall only minutes after the shooting.

"People were running forward. People were running back, and people were falling," Angelo Balma told CBS SF. He was at the mall with friends after a church gathering and said he was inside the Columbia store when he heard people screaming, according to the station.

Other people hid in the back of stores.

"They just said active shooter and we just ran, and I just ran into the store because the Levi's guy said just run in the back," one woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said through tears.

"The people who work at the store told everybody to run to the back of the store, so everyone was panicking, didn't know what was going on," said Tiffany Shuler. She was shopping at Gap when she heard there was a shooting at the mall.

"We just went to the back room, barricaded all 3 doors that we had, and just waited for police to get there," said Cecilia Centenl. She works at a clothing store inside the mall.

Officers from the Santa Clara County Sheriffs Department dressed in SWAT gear searched the mall store by store. They even found some shoppers hiding in a hallway.

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