Mayhem of Tacoma mall parking lot shooting caught on camera, stores closed

Cellphone video captured the chaotic moments after a Tacoma Mall shooting sent customers running for protection and forced many stores into lockdown.

Witnesses say the shots were fired near the mall’s food court on Saturday evening. FOX 13 News spoke to a family who took shelter in the back of a store and another man who filmed part of the shooting after the shooter passed him in the parking lot.

Anthony Ballenger said he was working on the terrace of the Cheesecake Factory when the shots rang out and panic broke out.

“We had guests crying. People were running into hiding. It was pretty 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 shots fired on video.

“It sounded like there were two different groups of people arguing, originally arguing, and one guy had a hand in his coat,” Anthony said.

He says the man who shot first had a sweater pulled over the lower half of his face.

“The guy who started shooting was shooting the other guy after he got behind a car,” Anthony said.

He says hundreds of people were trying to flee the terrifying situation, including a number of families and children who had come to enjoy Saturday at the mall.

“They’re like, ‘Okay, everybody back,'” said Monica Gasper, a mother from Gig Harbor.

Monica says she and her family were at Express when they ran into a back room to hide and the store was locked.

“We ran to the back, and they locked us in there and someone suggested the women and children be in a room, not out the door,” Monica said.

While Monica’s son was busy playing on dad’s phone, Monica was worried.

“I didn’t want to look too worried in front of my kids, so I tried to stay positive,” she said.

Tacoma police released a statement late Saturday saying that before 5:30 p.m., officers responded to a call for shots fired in the Tacoma Mall parking lot. Two groups of people allegedly exchanged gunfire and fled by car. No injuries were reported at that time.

“Amazingly, there were still people coming in with police everywhere, sitting down to eat. But we didn’t close. A lot of staff went home,” Anthony said.

FRONT COVER: Police investigate shots fired at Tacoma Mall, suspects at large

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Anthony praised his managers for keeping everyone safe and closing the store. He says they were also concerned about the mental health of employees and were supportive of them. He says unfortunately, the shooting is a sign of the times.

“The world is changing. It’s unfortunately something that happens too often,” Anthony said.

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