CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield Police arrested a man in relation to the shooting Tuesday afternoon at Chesterfield Towne Center.
Police swarmed the parking lot of Chesterfield Towne Center after receiving reports of shots being fired in the mall at around 6 p.m. Gunshots were fired amid the scuffle, police said, and one shooting victim was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
After the shooting, police said the suspect fled the scene and was described as a black male wearing a white T-shirt.
Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said they arrested 23-year-old William Ezell Taylor Jr.
Taylor is from Petersburg and was taken into custody and charged with aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held at the Chesterfield County Jail.
Several shoppers left shaken by a shooting Tuesday inside the Chesterfield Towne Center recounted the moments of fear and panic to 8News.
Chesterfield police said their investigation shows the two men involved in the fight did not know each other.
Witnesses say for about 30 minutes, they were unsure what was transpiring around them.
“It was panic,” said Angel Williams, who was inside the mall with her son when gunfire erupted. Hiding inside a jewelry store, Williams told 8News how she and her son dealt with the traumatic event.
One store manager helped shoppers running for safety. “All of a sudden I heard six shots and then a lot of customers just come running into my store, screaming for help and I just let all the women, the kids, everybody in and told them to come to the back,” said Shanika Smith, manager of Shoe City.
Smith shared video with 8News of the store’s storage room, which has an emergency exit. That is where she led customers to hide.
“I pushed them all to the back of the storage room so if something really was to go down, we could leave out the emergency exit,” she said.
Smith said Chesterfield police called Shoe City’s phone and told her to shut down the store. The mall was closed for the rest of the day. However, when asked if Smith noticed less customers in the mall Wednesday, she replied, “No, we still business as usual.”
Although she was not nervous to return to work, she was upset by the situation. “I just think that the young kids these days should just stop the violence, there’s kids in the mall, anybody could’ve got hurt,” she told 8News.
Chesterfield police said the gunshot victim is still in critical condition.
Police are asking that anyone with information, or who was in the area of the mall food court during the fight and shooting, contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or through the P3 app.