CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Several shoppers left shaken by a shooting Tuesday inside the Chesterfield Towne Center recounted the moments of fear and panic to 8News.
After hearing gunshots, many ran and hid in nearby stores. 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.
“My son was scared, he is crying,” she said. “So he went and hid in the bathroom and closed the door.”
Frenzy, frantic, fearful—all descriptors of the experiences shoppers shared about the moments after gunshots were heard inside the mall located off Midlothian Turnpike.
The sounds left mall visitor Carol Pannill in shock.
“You always hear about it but you never think you’re going to be involved in it,” she said.
Police swarmed the parking lot of Chesterfield Towne Center after receiving reports of shots being fired in the mall around 6 p.m. According to police, gunshots were fired amid an argumentative scuffle.
“Somehow during the fight, gunfire erupted that resulted in one victim that was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries,” said Major Mike Louth, Chesterfield Police Department.
WATCH: Major Mike Louth addresses shooting inside Chesterfield Towne Center
“There’s no active threat and the mall is safe,” Major Louth added.
Describing the commotion to 8News, Chris Rohlfing says “I heard what sounded like a loud slam, I thought at first it was maybe a table falling down, but then I heard four more and for sure knew that it was gunshots.”
Michelle West told 8News she was shaken up, sweating and felt shortness of breath after she called 911, waiting for answers. West was huddled in the back of the store where she works, unsure of what was taking place in the mall’s food court area.
While many ran for cover as the shooting occurred, Cheryl Love told 8News her curiosity brought her towards the mall for answers. Love says she left a Bon-Air area McDonald’s to follow multiple police vehicles en route to Chesterfield Towne Center. She told 8News that her curiosity quickly turned to sadness, however, once she learned what happened inside the mall.
“It’s awful, [the] whole situation is awful,” she said. “From a pandemic and now pandemonium.”