Sources: Maryland mall shooting may have been domestic dispute


by ABC News

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 25 at 9:17 PM

COLUMBIA, Md. (ABC News) -- Police investigating a shooting at a Maryland mall that left three dead, including the suspected shooter, are considering the possibility it was a domestic dispute involving a man, his estranged girlfriend, and her boyfriend, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Before confirming that, law enforcement is trying to make sure they have the identities of the dead correct, and trying to rule out any other possibilities, sources said.

At a news conference this afternoon, Howard County Police Department Chief Bill McMahon said police were not yet releasing the identities of the three dead, and said they were still investigating a possible motive, but they were sure the incident was over.

"We are very confident that it was a single shooter, that there is no other shooter in the mall," McMahon said.

"All of the activity took place at one time, in one store," he said, though he would not identify which store.

One of the three dead was found near a gun and ammunition, and was believed to have likely been the shooter, police said. There were no reports of any shots fired since that body was discovered.

Aside from the three dead, five people were injured, one who was shot and the others as they were trying to get away.

Police started getting 911 calls about a possible shooting at the mall at around 11:15 a.m., and it was immediately put on lockdown, McMahon said.

Witnesses described hearing five or six pops, which sparked panic.

"I didn't know what I thought it was and then I saw the other people like starting to run and then there were these others, next to me, like that's definitely a gunshot, so I just took off running for the entrance," shopper Christine Cruz said.

Elizabeth Braun, 31, of Westminster, Md. told ABC News she realized something was wrong when she started to see people running panicked.

"I was actually in the mall about to make my purchase, I saw people running into the store," said Braun. "The sales clerk was like 'let's go'"

Braun said she hid with at approximately 50 other people in a Victoria's Secret storage room to stay out of harm's way. Employees closed the stores metal gates to seal off the interior entrance that connected to the mall.

"Mostly [it] was pretty calm, mostly people were trying to figure what was going on," Braun said of the people in the storage room.

Braun said entered through the food court around 11 a.m. and thought the mall seemed more empty than usual.

"I thought I must have gotten there here really early," she said.

"It's one of the two malls you would go to," if you live in the area, she said. "I guess everyone is in this naive state of mind that this would never happen to them."

The two-story mall is about 40 minutes outside Washington, D.C., and has a movie theater in addition to a number of shops.

ABC News' Mike Levine contributed to this report.