REPORTED SHOOTING SPARKS EVACUATION
Police order lockdown, conduct sweep of mall after being alerted to possible shots fired
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.
Police officers take up positions at a doorway of the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016.
People embrace after leaving the mall.