After a 911 call was received at 11:15 a.m. reporting that shots had been fired at the Colombia Mall, consisting of about 200 stores, just north of Washington, D.C., police said officers responded quickly.
"We had officers quickly get into the area and we were able to identify three victims at an upper level store in the Columbia Mall, one of those victims appears to be the shooter," Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon told reporters.
"We are very confident that it was a single shooter and there are no other shooters in the mall," he said.
Authorities have confirmed that three people have been killed and both police and fire departments were on the scene.
“Three victims were found in an upper-level store,” McMahon said. “One appears to be the shooter. " A gun and ammunition were found near that person’s body, he said, but could not say if the suspect was a man or a woman.
The officers reported that after the initial gunfire, no other shots had been heard, “We don’t think there are any more shooters in or around the mall,” the police chief said. “Many, many people are still in the mall, securing themselves and sheltering in place.” He said police officers did not appear to have fired any shots.
"So right now we still have many, many people still in the mall who have secured themselves inside stores," he said.
Howard County police were going from store to store, interviewing people who had seen the shooting and allowing others to leave, McMahon sad.
One witness who was interviewed described the scene as chaotic: "I heard the shots and it was just a stampede...There were people running everywhere," said Antone Bishop, 19, who was shopping with his friend, Jared Malcolm at the Finish Line, a shoe store. "People were running out the of store...people didn't know what to do. People were crying. Everyone was just in a panic."
There was heavy police presence at the mall after the shooting, while people were released after the lockdown.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said police would be holding a second news conference later this afternoon.
It is happening more and more frequently, shootings at movie theaters, schools, universities, fast food joints, and malls.
A new report due to be released in the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) bulletin next week, finds that mass shootings have definitely become more common. They have spiked from five a year between 2000 and 2008 to 16 a year from 2009 to 2012.
The report indicates that the most common gender committing these mass shootings are the male gender, they vary in age but they encompass 94 percent of these violent shootings.
The shootings were averaged between businesses, which see 40 percent, schools at 29 percent, while 59 percent the gunmen use handguns, rifles are used 26 percent of the time.
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