The 20-year-old man had shot six people and was holed up with hostages in a record store at the Tacoma Mall Sun day when he decided he didn't want to hurt anyone else.
The 20-year-old man had shot six people and was holed up with hostages in a record store at the Tacoma Mall Sunday when he decided he didn’t want to hurt anyone else. It was time to give up.
By 4 p.m., the man surrendered and the hostages were released unharmed. One of the victims was listed in critical condition at Tacoma General Hospital suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Five others also were shot but not seriously hurt. Most were treated at area hospitals and released. The seventh victim suffered a non-gunshot injury.
The assault began shortly after noon. Whatever had been eating at the young man broke loose, as he sent a barrage of gunfire sending hundreds of shoppers fleeing for their lives as he walked along, yelling and firing randomly with an assault-style rifle.
As many as 20 shots were fired.
Tacoma police booked Dominick Maldonado into the Pierce County Jail Sunday night on six counts of assault and three counts of kidnapping, according to jail records. He was being held on $450,000 bail.
Police locked down the mall for hours as they attempted to negotiate with him. He had barricaded himself in the Sam Goody store with three hostages — two employees and a customer. A relative of one of the hostages said the man was distraught after the shootings and, at one point, released an 8-year-old boy whom he had briefly held.
Court records show Maldonado has an extensive juvenile criminal history dating back to 1998. He has been convicted of burglary, theft and possession of burglary tools and the records indicate he had been ordered by a judge not to possess any weapons.
One of his hostages was shopping for music at Sam Goody with his wife when the shooting began. Desiree, who didn’t want their last name used, said she was waiting in line to pay when she heard gunshots. She and the other customers “hit the floor,” she said. She then ran to the back of the store and out the emergency exit. When she got outside, she realized her husband, Jon, had not followed her out.
“They would not let me back in,” she said.
During the four hours before her husband was released, Desiree said he called her and sent a text message.
“He told me that it was going to be OK, that he was going to make it, and that he loved me,” she said.
The couple was married a month ago.
Her husband is in the army, stationed at Fort Lewis. He and the other man being held hostage, who also had military training, were able to help talk the shooter into releasing them.
“They just talked about life in general,” she said. “They personalized it. They talked about their lives, their families, why they wanted to get out of there.”
The gunman kept them up against a wall and let them take bathroom breaks and make phone calls. He kept his gun close by, she said, but didn’t keep it trained on the hostages.
“He was very adamant on not wanting to hurt anyone else,” she said. “He was not threatening them.”
The man did talk about his motive, but Desiree said police had asked her and her husband not to disclose that conversation.
Among the injured was Roberta Davis, who suffered a gunshot wound in her leg just above the knee. She said she was close enough to the man to see the muzzle flashes as he fired the rifle.
Davis, 53, of Port Orchard, said she had been shopping at JCPenney and never even felt the bullet pass through her thigh as she fled.
“I didn’t realize I’d been shot until partway through my run,” she said. “I said to my husband, ‘Oh, my leg hurts.’ I looked down at my pant and there was a hole in it and blood coming down my leg.”
Doctors told her the round came close to shattering her femur.
“I’m still trembling inside. I’m exhausted,” she said back at her home.
Kat Frossard said she was shopping for sunglasses at a kiosk near the mall Christmas display when she heard “Crack! Crack! Crack!”
“Then this man falls right in front of me,” with a bullet wound in his calf, she said. Frossard, of Tacoma, ducked behind a planter and then stood up to see what was happening when other shoppers started yelling “Gunfire! Gunfire!”
Frossard said someone pulled her into the nearby Abercrombie and Fitch store. Robert Morley, an employee at JCPenney, said he had arrived early for work and was walking out of the Sam Goody store when he saw a clean-cut white man, with short hair and wearing a tan jacket, white shirt and tie, and carrying a rifle. He said he thought the man had pulled the weapon from beneath his jacket.
“I ducked and just headed into the Disney store,” he said. “I was scared, but I did what I had to do.”
Witnesses said the shooting went on for about 45 seconds, scattering shoppers and resulting in a massive police and fire response.
Many shoppers fled into nearby stores and some took refuge in the stores or slipped out back exits. Dozens were blocked by police from returning to their cars and were left to mill around the parking lot as police locked down the mall and tried to establish communications with the man.
The first 911 call was received about 12:15 p.m., police said.
LaSharr Noel, an employee at Life Uniforms, described chaos and screaming in the mall. “People were running into the store and hiding in the dressing rooms.”
Susan Serveau, whose 24-year-old daughter, Kathy Riggans, is the store manager at Sam Goody and was held by the gunman. Serveau said she spoke with her daughter by telephone shortly after the shooting subsided.
“She was very distraught,” an emotional Serveau told reporters in the mall parking lot as she awaited news from police.
“She said, ‘Yes, I’m being held hostage at the mall.’.”
Serveau said her daughter told her she was with her assistant manager and a customer.
“We waited him out,” said Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum. “He’s in custody and the hostages are all safe.”
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Julia Sommerfeld: 206-464-2708 or email@example.com; Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff reporter Warren Cornwall and researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.