South Carolina mall emptied after shots reported, police say

By REUTERS
February 21, 2016 04:31
1 minute read.

 
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A search was underway at a shopping center on the outskirts of the South Carolina state capital on Saturday after reports of gunfire in the busy mall, but there was no active shooter on the scene, local police said.

Officers were evacuating the Columbiana Centre mall, about 10 miles northwest of the State House in downtown Columbia, and talking with potential witnesses, the Columbia Police Department said on its Twitter account. A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter was assisting in the operation.

Police Chief William "Skip" Holbrook said the incident began inside the mall with a fistfight involving three men. He told reporters during a nighttime news conference that two people then pulled out firearms and fired into the air before fleeing.

Holbrook said people were still being evacuated from the mall by 9 p.m. local time, and some people were still sheltered in place inside the center. He said there were no reports of any injuries and no one was in custody.

Earlier, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin sent a Tweet on his account reading: "Urgent! Report of an active shooter at Columbiana Center Mall. Please avoid the mall and Harbison Blvd if possible."

The reports of gunfire came soon after the polls closed in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary, but there was no known connection between the voting and events at the mall.

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