One teenager is dead and another wounded following a shooting this afternoon at Westfield Southcenter mall in Tukwila. Police searched until about...
One teenager is dead and another wounded following a shooting this afternoon at Westfield Southcenter mall in Tukwila.
Police searched until about 9:30 p.m. for a suspect inside the mall, which was locked down after the shooting. Many shoppers and store employees fled the mall after shots were reported just before 3:45 p.m.
The two victims were transported to Harborview Medical Center. A Harborview spokeswoman confirmed the identity of the dead teen as Daiquin L. Jones, 16. A 15-year-old boy, Jermaine McGowen, remains in serious condition, but his injuries are described as non-life-threatening.
The incident occurred near the south main entrance of the mall, in a corridor near two restaurants. Police said they have talked to one eyewitness and are reviewing surveillance tapes.
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“We’re getting some pretty good evidence. I’m confident we’ll be able to make an arrest.” Tukwila police spokesman Mike Murphy said late tonight.
The suspect is described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s, of average build, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 145 pounds. He was believed to be wearing a black jumpsuit with red piping.
Police said the suspect used a pistol and fired multiple shots. Two people have been detained for questioning but, Murphy said, neither is the shooter.
It is unknown what led to the shooting, but, Murphy said, the shooting does not appear to be random. Asked whether the shooting was gang-related, Murphy said, “It’s an angle we’re looking at.”
A multi-agency SWAT team has been brought in to search the mall. “The odds are going down every minute that we’re going to find him in there,” Murphy said. About 80 officers are at the mall tonight.
Murphy said officers confined the search to the mall to ensure the shooter wasn’t hiding inside.
People inside the mall during the shooting described a chaotic scene.
Mark Nickels, 51, of Seattle, was on the second floor, when he heard the first shot. “Everybody just stopped. Everybody thought something fell. Then a second or two later, there was a second shot, and then everbody scattered. People were running to the (exits) or running to the stores to hide.”
Martin Rosenblum, a jeweler at Fast Fix Jewelry Repair, said he was about to leave the store for a late lunch when he saw a flood of shoppers “running and screaming, They were saying ‘Get out. Get out.’ Then the police came and (our boss) said the ‘lock the doors.'”
Chauncey Williams, a soldier from Fort Lewis, said he was coming out of J.C. Penney when he saw two men arguing when one pulled a gun and started shooting. He said children were screaming and shoppers were running.
“I’ve got the heebie jeebies. It’s like I’m back in Iraq or something.”
Another shopper said she saw what looked like several teenagers fighting, when one pulled a gun. She said she heard a shot and ran into the Bare Escentuals store.
“I was standing there watching the restaurant when beneath us there was this loud bang,” said Heraclio Garnica, manager of the Thai Go restaurant in the mall’s second-level food court.
“I turned my head to see what this huge bang was all about. As soon as I turned I heard a second one, another bang,” he said. “There was lots of commotion, and people just started running. We ran for cover as well, inside one of the restaurants.” He then saw security officers running down the escalators to get to the scene.
Garnica said it had been one of the busiest days of the year for the restaurant and the mall had been packed with shoppers up until the shooting. But within minutes, he said, “the whole mall was just empty.”
Garnica’s boss, restaurant owner Punya Tip, said everyone was panicked: “People just started screaming and then running,” after the shooting, he said.
The mall parking lot was a mess, witnesses said, as police evacuated people there from inside.
“Everyone’s standing around outside. There’s no movement. Cars are taking up every space and traffic’s not moving,” said a worker at the Olive Garden restaurant, located in the mall parking lot, shortly after the shooting.
Garnica said he told his workers to leave: “They were just scared and wanted to go home,” he said.
Two other people inside the mall were hospitalized during the evacuation, one a pregnant woman who went into labor, Dave Nelson, spokesman for Skyway Fire.
Seattle Times staff reporters Erik Lacitis, Nick Perry, Eric Pryne and Tan Vinh contributed to this story.