Multiple people injured in what authorities describe as ‘active shooting’ at Florida shopping mall

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Multiple people injured in what authorities describe as ‘active shooting’ at Florida shopping mall

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In this screengrab from video provided by WKMG/ClickOrlando, Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken speaks during a news conference following a fatal shooting in a common area at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (WKMG/ClickOrlando via AP)

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In this photo provided by the Ocala Police Department, a cruiser sits parked following a fatal shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (Jeff Walczak/Ocala Police Department via AP)




 

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — A man died in a shooting at a shopping mall in central Florida two days before Christmas in which the victim was “targeted” for the attack, police said.

Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken told reporters Saturday evening that the man was killed after he was shot multiple times in a common area at Paddock Mall in Ocala, located about 80 miles (127 kilometers) northwest of Orlando.

A woman also was shot in the leg. She was treated at a local hospital and expected to recover, Balken said.

The suspect fled the scene and left behind the firearm, Balken said.

Police arrived at the mall around 3:40 p.m. after a call of multiple shots being fired at the mall.

“Officers immediately made entry into the mall (and) ultimately discovered that this was not what we would consider an active shooter,” Balken told reporters.

The attack was likely a “targeted act of violence” against the man, Balken said.

In this photo provided by the Ocala Police Department, a cruiser sits parked following a fatal shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (Jeff Walczak/Ocala Police Department via AP)

In this photo provided by the Ocala Police Department, a cruiser sits parked following a fatal shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (Jeff Walczak/Ocala Police Department via AP)

Several other mall patrons suffered injuries during the shooting, with one person having chest pain and another reporting a broken arm, police said.

The Ocala police posted photos overnight of a person of interest that appear to be taken from a mall security camera. The three images show a male with a red cap and dark clothing. Balken previously said the suspect wore a hooded sweatshirt and a mask partially covering his face.

The police also asked the public for assistance by submitting mobile phone video of the shooting scene.

The mall’s corporate owner, WPG, said in a statement that they were working with the Ocala Police Department in the investigation of what happened.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts are with all those involved,” the statement said. “The safety of our guests, retailers and employees is our top priority.”

The mall has dozens of stores, including J.C. Penney and Foot Locker.

Calvin and Diana Amos, who were shopping in the J.C. Penney store, told the Ocala Star-Banner that they evacuated the store quickly once they figured out what was going on. They described themselves as scared and apprehensive.

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