Newly-released 911 calls detail the chaos and terror that shoppers experienced when shots were fired inside a crowded Northlake Mall on Christmas Eve.
One terrified woman hiding out in the back of a store after she heard gunshots yelled on the 911 call, “Is that a gun? Is that a gun? Is that a gun?”
And an officer screamed into his microphone on radio traffic that he needed help. He said, “10-33 Northlake Mall, 10-33 Northlake Mall.”
And then there are parents who got calls or text from their children inside the mall. One woman called 911 and said, “My daughters who are 13 and 18 just called me from Northlake Mall, and they said there’s a shooting there, and they’re hiding in a bathroom.”
Police say two groups who had a history of feuding were fighting at the mall and that dispute erupted in gunfire. An off-duty policeman working security responded. He shot and killed one of those suspects after investigators say that man turned and pointed a gun at the officer.
But in the immediate aftermath of the shooting no one knew any of that or when the shots would stop.
M. Quentin Williams, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who now works as a lawyer and security consultant, said, “The people who were at risk were finding any place possible to hide.”
Williams said people did the right thing by finding out-of-the way places, like manager’s offices, to barricade themselves in. And they also texted their loved ones asking them to get help.
He says the take away for law enforcement could be to have lots of extra officers at the mall on a busy shopping day like Christmas Eve. Williams said, “It doesn’t sound like there was an overwhelming amount of security that night—armed security.”
Williams went on to say, “There is the possibility that the presence of law enforcement could’ve prevented this from happening.”
CMPD did not comment after the release of the 911 calls.
FOX 46 received the following statement from Northlake Mall Management:
“The safety of our shoppers, guests, tenants and employees is our number one priority. In addition to our partnerships with area law enforcement, our security teams train and prepare for a number of situations. However, we don’t share details of the mall’s security response plans as it compromises public safety.”