Cascade Mall Shooting: Gunman at Large After Killing 5 North of Seattle

Cascade Mall Shooting: Gunman at Large After Killing 5 North of Seattle

Police were searching Saturday for a gunman dressed in black who fled on foot after opening fire in the makeup department at a Macy’s store in Burlington, Wash., killing five people.

Skagit County authorities in Burlington, about 65 miles north of Seattle, said 11 search teams and two K-9 units had largely cleared the 434,000-square-foot Cascade Mall, going shop by shop, but warned the situation in the area remained volatile.

“We are still actively looking for the shooter,” Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Francis said at a news conference. “Stay indoors, stay secure.”

Francis also noted that some locked rooms and doors still needed to be checked at the shopping center.

Witnesses described the shooter as a Hispanic man wearing black and armed with a “hunting-type” rifle, said Given Kutz, a spokesman for the Skagit County Emergency Operations Center. The suspect was last spotted walking toward nearby Interstate-5 in the largely rural area.

Francis said authorities believe there was only one shooter and released a blurry photo of the dark-haired suspect dressed in a black T-shirt. The motive behind the attack Friday night remains unclear.

Stephanie Bose, assistant general manager at Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant near the Macy’s store, said she immediately locked the doors to the restaurant after hearing about the shooting from an employee’s boyfriend.

“He was trying to go to the mall and people were screaming,” she told The Associated Press. “It was frantic.”

Police later searched the Cascade Mall and confirmed the four deaths, Francis said. The fifth victim died later at the Harborview Medical Center.

The FBI is assisting local law enforcement in the investigation and said it has no information to suggest additional attacks are planned in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement late Friday night expressing his condolences and prayers to those affected by the shootings.

“Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight,” Inslee wrote on Twitter. “Trudi and I send our condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for anyone injured. Stay close to friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect’s capture.”

The Cascade Mall is an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1990, according to the mall’s website. It features J.C. Penney, TJ Maxx, and Macy’s, among other stores, restaurants and a movie theater.

Joe Zavala of Blaine, Wash., was sitting outside Macy’s drinking a cup of coffee when he heard about eight or nine shots fired.

“Then I saw a man pointing a gun and shooting people,” Zavala said. “And then I got up to look a little closer and he saw me, pointed the gun, and I took off running.”

After the shots stopped, Zavala went back into the Macy’s to search for his wife. Zavala saw people laying on the floor, including two elderly women. Another woman was helping an injured person behind the cosmetics counter. A rifle was sitting on the counter.

“It all happened so fast,” said Zavala, who found his wife inside a fitting room. “At first I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt helpless, because I couldn’t do anything.”

Tari Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald she was inside a Macy’s dressing room and heard “what sounded like four balloons popping.”

“Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn’t feel right,” Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald. “And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store.”

People inside the mall were transported by bus to His Place Church near the mall, Francis confirmed. Stores near the mall remain on lockdown, and roads around the mall are closed. Main highways are still open.

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