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Mall shootings, flash mob thefts mark Black Friday


(LOS ANGELES) — Several mall shootings and flash mob robbery sprees cast a pall on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Three people were shot, including a 10-year-old, and another three suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the subsequent evacuation when gunfire broke out at Southpoint Mall in Durham, North Carolina, Friday afternoon, police said.

The child and another male shooting victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries, while a man was in critical condition due to gunshot wounds as of Saturday afternoon, police said.

One person was in custody, while others involved in the shooting fled the scene in what did not appear to be a random incident, according to the Durham Police Department. No charges had been filed as of Saturday afternoon.

People started running and screaming after hearing multiple gunshots after 3 p.m. local time, shoppers said.

“There were people being trampled, going up and down the escalator,” Aleaha Marr, who was shopping with a friend at the time of the shooting, told ABC Raleigh station WTVD.

One person suffered a gunshot wound after a shooting at Tacoma Mall in Washington Friday evening, authorities said.

The incident occurred shortly after 7 p.m. local time when a dispute near the food court escalated to gunfire, Tacoma Police Department spokesperson Gary Wurges told reporters.

The condition of the shooting victim was unknown at the time. Nobody was in custody, and there were no leads on suspects in the hours immediately after the shooting, police said.

Shoppers recounted the panic after gunfire broke out.

“We were about to get up and I hear about six shots or something,” Daisey Dockter, who was finishing a meal at the food court at the time of the shooting, told ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO. “We all just start running toward the door. It’s a huge mob of people. Everyone’s kind of pushing.”

The mall was evacuated and secured following the incident. Several stores started going on lockdown and served as places for people to hide, KOMO reported.

“Our doors were locked,” Peyton Comstock, who works at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, told the station. “Nobody could come in. We took in people obviously that were scared. There was a poor mom and daughter. She was so terrified. I felt so bad. [She was] hyperventilating.”

Several stores also reportedly saw “smash-and-grab” thefts on Black Friday.

The Los Angeles Police Department went on a city-wide tactical alert Friday night “due to increased robberies,” authorities said.

The alert followed a robbery at the Bottega Veneta store in the Melrose area, where an unknown amount of items were reportedly taken by a large group of people, according to ABC Los Angeles station KABC.

In Lakewood, a group of about eight people stole tools from a Home Depot just before 8 p.m. local time Friday, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. The items, which included hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars, amounted to around $400, authorities said.

The incidents follow reports of smash-and-grab thefts that occurred earlier this week at the Beverly Center and Topanga Mall.

The LAPD stepped up patrols in major shopping districts with the help of California Highway Patrol units in the wake of the robberies, Chief Michel Moore told KABC Wednesday.

“We know that when police officers are visible, when they’re in our neighborhoods, that we have safer neighborhoods, we have better interactions and we just overall are just a more safer city,” Moore told the station.

Another flash mob theft occurred in Minnesota Friday night, when a group of as many as 30 swarmed a Best Buy in south metro Minneapolis, authorities said.

The incident occurred after 8 p.m. local time, when the group allegedly stole electronics and fled before police arrived, the Burnsville Police Department said.

So far, no arrests have been made, and it’s unclear how much merchandise was stolen, police said.

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