At least eight people were killed and seven others were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Dallas-area mall on Saturday. The assailant has been shot dead by a police officer who happened to be nearby.
The condition of three of the injured is stated to be critical.
Authorities did not immediately provide details about the victims, but witnesses reported seeing children among them.
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Some said they also saw what appeared to be a police officer and a mall security guard unconscious on the ground.
The shooting was the latest episode of gun violence to strike the country. It sent hundreds of shoppers fleeing in panic.
Calls reporting gunshots came in about 3.40 pm local time from the Allen Premium Outlets.
Witnesses told The Associated Press they saw multiple victims, including some who appeared to be children, and that they saw a police officer and a mall security guard who appeared to be unconscious on the ground.
Allen police said in a Facebook post that nine victims had been taken to hospitals.
In a statement, Medical City Healthcare, a Dallas-area hospital system, said it was treating eight people aged between five and 61. Their conditions were unknown.
An Allen Police officer was in the area on an unrelated call when the officer heard gunshots at Allen Premium Outlets at 3.36 pm, the police department wrote on Facebook.
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“The officer engaged the suspect and neutralized the threat. He then called for emergency personnel. Nine victims were transported to local hospitals by Allen Fire Department,” the agency wrote in the Facebook post. “There is no longer an active threat.”
US Rep. Keith Self, who represents the area that includes the mall, said he had confirmed with law enforcement that the shooter is dead, and that there was no one else involved in the attack.
Local media said blood could be seen on the footpath outside the mall while some bodies were covered in white sheets.
A crowd of hundreds of people who had been shopping stood outside, across the street from the mall, Saturday evening. Officers circulated among them asking if anyone had seen what happened.
Witnesses recount horrific account
Fontayne Payton, 35, was at H&M when he heard the sound of gunshots through the headphones he was wearing.
“It was so loud, it sounded like it was right outside,” Payton said.
People in the store scattered before employees ushered the group into the fitting rooms and then a lockable back room, he said. When they were given the all-clear to leave, Payton saw the store had broken windows and a trail of blood to the door. Discarded sandals and bloodied clothes were laying nearby.
Once outside, Payton saw bodies.
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“I pray it wasn’t kids, but it looked like kids,” he said. The bodies were covered in white towels, slumped over bags on the ground, he said.
“It broke me when I walked out to see that,”
A few metres away, he saw the body of a heavyset man wearing all black. He assumed it was the shooter, Payton said, because unlike the other bodies it had not been covered up.
Stan and Mary Ann Greene were browsing in the Columbia sportswear store when the shooting started.
“We had just gotten in, just a couple minutes earlier, and we just heard a lot of loud popping,” Mary Ann Greene told AP. “I said, Was that gunfire?”
Employees immediately rolled down the security gate and brought everyone to the rear of the store until police arrived and escorted them out, the Greenes said.
Eber Romero was at the Under Armour store when a cashier mentioned that there was a shooting.
As he left the store, Romero said, the mall appeared empty, and all the shops had their security gates down. That is when he started seeing broken glass and people who had been shot on the floor.
Video shared on social media showed people running through a parking lot while gunfire could be heard.
More than 30 police cruisers with lights flashing were blocking an entrance to the mall, with multiple ambulances on the scene.
A live aerial broadcast from the news station showed armoured trucks and other law enforcement vehicles stationed outside the sprawling outdoor mall.
Ambulances from several neighboring cities responded to the scene.
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The Dallas office of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded.
Allen, a suburb about 40 kilometers north of downtown Dallas, has roughly 105,000 residents.
(With inputs from agencies)