‘Just get here fast’
911 audio from Danbury Fair mall reveal police, shoppers’ responses to shooting
DANBURY — Newly released 911 calls show shoppers, employees and their families’ fear as they hid from a shooter at the Danbury Fair mall earlier this month.
Dozens of people called 911 on the evening of Aug. 11 after at 15-year-old girl was shot outside Macy’s. The release of the 911 recordings follows a Freedom of Information Act request from Hearst Connecticut Media.
“Just get here fast, Danbury mall, Macy’s,” said one caller, who said she heard a gunshot and then saw everyone run.
The calls, at least 40 in total, provide further insight into the leads police had the night of the shooting. They ranged from store workers who locked themselves and customers in back rooms to family members seeking information so that they could relay it to their loved ones hiding inside. Others gave tips to the dispatcher about the shooting and some were looking for direction on what to do while inside the mall.
One caller reported seeing someone run out of the mall, throw something into a bush by Macy’s, jump in a black Ford or Chevy, and drive away in the direction of Pier 1 Imports.
“He kept on looking back and he tucked something into his waistband,” the caller said. “And then once he got close enough to the bush, he threw it into bush, and sprinted and got into the truck.”
The dispatcher took down the caller’s information, told her and her group to wait, and that a detective would call.
Police have said the teenage girl was shot in the upper chest. She was part of two groups who were in an altercation prior to the shooting. Police described video surveillance footage as showing eight members of one group and an unknown number in another.
A 14-year-year-old boy has been charged in the shooting and further information, including his name, is sealed due to his age. It was unclear whether the 15-year-old girl was the intended target of the shooting, but did state the target may have been a person wielding a hammer.
One caller reported finding a hammer near her car. The dispatcher took down her contact information so police could follow up on scene.
“I saw the person was running off with a hammer, and they dropped it off in front of my car,” said the caller, who told the dispatcher she was going to Macy’s with her husband and saw people running out of the store.
A few people called to report an “active shooter” in the mall.
Others described hiding in the back of stores or what they heard to the dispatchers.
“We thought we just heard a gunshot,” said a caller who identified himself as a supervisor at the LEGO store. “All the other stores closed around us.”
“OK, just shelter in place,” the dispatcher said. “Did you see anybody? Did you see anybody run or anybody do the shooting?”
“I didn't see any shooting,” the supervisor said. “But I saw everybody running. Pfoof, I just had to take a breath.”
“OK, just shelter in place, OK,” the dispatcher said. “We have officers on the way.”
A couple callers told the dispatcher in whispers they were hiding behind the Disney store. Dispatchers told shoppers and employees to stay put and wait for the directions of officers, who eventually evacuated people from the mall.
One caller asked the dispatcher what she should do.
“I just heard something really loud outside and all the doors started closing,” she said. “Should I close my store, too?”
“Yes, close your store and wait and take shelter,” the dispatcher said.
“Do you know what happened?” the employee asked.
“No miss,” he said. “Do you know what happened?” she said.
“Do what I told you,” he said.
“Can I go outside or can I stay in the store?” she said.
“No,” the dispatcher said. “Shut the store and remain in the store.”
“I’m in the store,” she said. “I’m just really scared right now.”
“Okay,” the dispatcher said.
“So my sister is going to come pick me up. Should I —” she began.
“Miss, no one is going to go in the mall now,” he said. “I have to go. I have to take other emergency calls. Just take shelter.”
Family members who had loved ones in the mall called to ask for information, but dispatchers had little to give.
“There’s an active incident going on,” the dispatcher told one caller. “Just tell your wife to shelter in place.”
The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing and police last week said it is possible more arrests will be made.