RE­PORTED SHOOTING SPARKS EVAC­U­A­TION

Po­lice or­der lock­down, con­duct sweep of mall af­ter be­ing alerted to pos­si­ble shots fired

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Glenn Grif­fith

GUILDERLAND >> Hun­dreds of shop­pers and movie­go­ers at the Crossgates Mall on Satur­day were ei­ther evac­u­ated or se­cured in the mall’s stores as word spread of ac­tive shoot­ers pos­si­bly be­ing the mall.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials or­dered an evac­u­a­tion of the mall af­ter po­lice were alerted to one, or pos­si­bly two, shots be­ing fired.

Po­lice could not in­de­pen­dently con­firm those re­ports. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of in­juries and no sus­pects in cus­tody.

Of­fi­cers with as­sault ri­fles po­si­tioned around the mall were search­ing the prop­erty and check­ing se­cu­rity footage.

Un­con­firmed re­ports from shop­pers who had evac­u­ated the mall, or from those out­side in the park­ing lot who were in con­tact with friends or loved ones still in­side, said a weapon or weapons had been dis­charged in the mall.

“It was so real,” said Chrissy Mar­in­ucci. “We were leav­ing the food court and sud­denly a woman said to me, ‘You have to run faster. They’re shooting up there.’ Then I heard three shots and my hus­band and I be­gan run­ning too. I heard two peo­ple got hurt.”

Four young women stood out­side the mall un­der a cool af­ter­noon sun and said they were in the Melt­ing Pot restau­rant when their server came over to them and told them shots had been fired and they would have to evac­u­ate soon.

“A short time later the po­lice came and got all the peo­ple out of the restau­rant,” said one of the women, who asked that her name not be used. “We got out around 4 p.m. We had been wait­ing around an hour.”

“I was kind of con­cerned,” said Nix For­est, one of the women. “I was wor­ried about my dad and brother. They’re in the movies.” Amelie Feimer, an­other of the young women who was eat­ing in the restau­rant, said she was con­cerned also.

Added Pia Spei­del, “I was happy we were in the restau­rant and not out in the mall,” added Pia Spei­del. Mau­rice Ap­ple­man was in the Carhart store win­dow shop­ping when an em­ployee told him ev­ery­one would have to leave the build­ing. “Since leav­ing the mall, I’ve heard there were four men, un­der 20,” he said.

“Two were arrested out­side. I didn’t hear any shots my­self, but peo­ple are say­ing Ap­ple em­ploy­ees may have been wounded.

They are say­ing it’s over re­cent fir­ings.” Matt He­witt was an­other by­stander in the park­ing lot. As a heli­copter cir­cled the mall over­head, He­witt said he came to

the mall be­cause his fi­ance, Tara Fran­cis, and her daugh­ter were in the mall. He was keep­ing in con­tact with her via text mes­sages as the two women were locked in the rear of a store. “She texted me around 3 p.m. that she was locked down, couldn’t get out, and didn’t know how long it would be,” He­witt said as he cir­cled Fran­cis’ blue SUV. An­other wor­ried part­ner who re­fused to give his name said his girl­friend was also locked down in the mall.

“I saw on Face­book Live that two peo­ple were ap­pre­hended and one got away in a blue Nis­san,” he said. Shortly be­fore 5 p.m., He­witt said he had re­ceived word from his fi­ance that she was be­ing es­corted out.

“She says there is still one ac­tive shooter in there,” he said. About 20 min­utes later, Fran­cis, her daugh­ter and sev­eral oth­ers were es­corted out by the state po­lice and the two jumped in their SUV. He­witt, hav­ing missed their ar­rival, hur­ried over to the car when he saw the lights come on. “Ner­vous,” Fran­cis said when asked what it

was like be­ing locked in. “We were trapped for two hours in the back of Ar­dene. We weren’t scared, but ner­vous. It’s been a long day.”

Ray Blair op­er­ates A Christ­mas to Re­mem­ber in the mall. He said he did not hear any shots, but he no­ticed a “stam­pede” of shop­pers start run­ning past his store. “I saw a youngster get knocked down as they were all head­ing to­ward Macy’s,” Blair said. “I went back into my store and there were no shop­pers. They had all gone to the rear of the store. I let them out the back and then the po­lice did a full lock­down. Even­tu­ally they had ev­ery­one leave out the door by Pizze­ria UNO.” The Guilderland Po­lice Depart­ment is the lead in­ves­tiga­tive agency for the in­ci­dent. As of 6:30 p.m. Satur­day, depart­ment of­fi­cials de­scribed the scene as still ac­tive and still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. Au­thor­i­ties said they will pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion when their in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

MICHAEL P. FAR­RELL — THE ALBANY TIMES UNION VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice of­fi­cers take up po­si­tions at a door­way of the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland on Satur­day, Nov. 12, 2016.

MICHAEL GROLL — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Peo­ple em­brace af­ter leav­ing the mall.

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