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Police responding to “active situation” at Wauwatosa mall

Live capture of WDJT-TV live feed from incident at Wauwatosa mall on Nov. 20, 2020
Live capture of WDJT-TV live feed from incident at Wauwatosa mall on Nov. 20, 2020(WDJT)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 3:52 PM CST
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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (AP) — A police dispatcher said officers were responding to “a very active situation” at a suburban Milwaukee mall on Friday.

The dispatcher said she could not immediately provide further details about the reported incident at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa.

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said in an afternoon statement that a suspect remained at large after the shooting at Mayfair Mall, where witnesses told WISN-TV that they had heard what they believed to be eight to 12 gunshots.

WISN also reported that at least five people were taken away from the mall on stretchers, at least two of whom were sitting upright and appeared to be conscious. Some people remained in the mall while police searched for a suspect. The station interviewed several people outside the mall who said they had friends sheltering in stores inside.

Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber gave no motive for the attack at the Mayfair Mall in a brief update about three hours after the 2:50 p.m. incident near an entrance to the Macy’s store. He said the extent of injuries to the eight — seven adults and one teenager — was unknown, but all were alive. He added that the shooter was “no longer at the scene” when authorities arrived.

“Preliminary statements from witnesses indicate that the shooter is a white male in his 20s or 30s,” Weber told reporters. “Investigators are working on determining the identity of that suspect.” He said social media posts claiming to identify the shooter were false.

The chief called the mall an active crime scene and asked people to continue to stay away. He said the mall would remain closed until further notice.

One witness at the Macy’s store described 8 to 12 shots being fired. She was on the second floor of Macy’s and couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. She and her mother were evacuated down an employee stairwell to a basement level. Another witness told WISN she thought she heard fireworks when an Eddie Bauer employee said there were gunshots and started helping everyone get to safety. Some people remained in the mall while police searched for a suspect. The station interviewed several people outside the mall who said they had friends sheltering in stores inside.

Jill Wooley was inside Macy’s with her 79-year-old mother when they heard eight to 12 gun shots just outside the store entrance. “We heard the first shot fired and knew immediately it was a gunshot,” Wooley told CBS58 in Milwaukee. “We both just dropped to the floor.”

Wooley said she didn’t see anyone but the shots were “very close.” She added that they ran in the opposite direction to the basement of the store, where they then hid.

Trish Cox’s 19-year-old nephew works at Finish Line sporting goods store. She said she was worried because the store’s phone wasn’t being answered. She was waiting frantically while FBI agents cleared the mall.

An FBI agent who wouldn’t give his name said the mall was being “methodically” cleared. Heavily armed FBI personnel were visible at the mall.

Mall operator Brookfield Properties said in a statement they were “disheartened and angered that our guests and tenants were subject to this violent incident today.” They declined further comment.

Law enforcement on the scene includes the Wauwatosa and Milwaukee police departments, Milwaukee and Waukesha county sheriff’s offices and Wisconsin State Patrol. Police have blocked off part of the parking lot in front of Macy’s on the north side of the mall.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.