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Search continues for Tacoma Mall shooter — tight-lipped police give few details

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The search for the shooter who terrorized Tacoma Mall shoppers Friday night entered its second day Saturday as a victim recovered in a local hospital.

Tacoma police spokesman officer Gary Wurges offered no new information on the search for the suspect who allegedly shot one person. Police did not provide a description of the suspect.

“Everything is status quo,” Wurges said Saturday morning. “It’s an ongoing investigation and our criminal investigation division has been notified.”

The shooting apparently followed a dispute between at least two people near the food court just after 7 p.m. The mall was immediately locked down as shoppers and employees sheltered behind closed doors and in store rooms.

The male victim was tended to by police officers who were working at the mall off-duty and heard the shots. The victim was transported to a local hospital in serious but stable condition, Wurges said Saturday afternoon.

Tacoma Mall, which is owned by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, said the mall opened at 10 a.m. Monday.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, shoppers and retailers,” a statement from the mall said. “We are grateful to the Tacoma Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and other first responders for their swift response.”

An employee at Macy’s, which opens earlier than the mall, said her store was back in business at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“Everything’s back to normal,” she told The News Tribune.

City leaders condemned Friday night’s violence.

Mayor Victoria Woodards and Deputy Mayor Keith Blocker thanked first responders who quickly converged on the scene.

A police office guards an entrance to the Tacoma Mall on Friday. Gunshots rang out in the shopping center earlier in the evening.
A police office guards an entrance to the Tacoma Mall on Friday. Gunshots rang out in the shopping center earlier in the evening.

“Because the impacts of gun violence ripple out community wide, we continue to place high priority on public safety,” they said in a joint statement. “As we learn more, we stand with everyone impacted by this event — we are stronger together.”

Black Friday’s incident comes 16 years after a mass shooting at the same mall.

On Nov. 20, 2005, Dominick Maldonado told 911 dispatchers to “follow the screams” before he opened fire in the mall with an assault-style rifle, wounding seven people.

When a store employee, Dan McKown, tried talking him down, Maldonado shot him five times. McKown, a local stand-up comic, was permanently paralyzed by the shooting.

Maldonado then took four hostages but later surrendered. He was sentenced to 163 years in prison.

As with Friday’s shooting, shoppers took refuge in stores and backrooms in 2005 as police cleared the scene. McKown lay for an hour, bleeding internally, before help arrived.

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