Twelve people were injured, including 10 with gunshot wounds, during a shooting incident inside the Columbiana Centre mall in South Carolina on Saturday, April 16, the Columbia Police Department said.
Speaking to media, Chief Skip Holbrook said eight of the gunshot victims were transported to hospital by authorities, including two in “critical but stable” condition. Another two gunshot victims self-reported to local hospitals, and two more people were injured in a stampede as people tried to flee the mall, Holbrook said.
Three people were detained, Holbrook added.
“At least three people were seen with firearms inside the mall, and at least one person fired a weapon. That could change,” Holbrook said, before urging witnesses to contact police with information.
In a statement released by police, the Columbiana Centre’s management said: “Today’s isolated, senseless act of violence is extremely upsetting and our thoughts are with everyone impacted. We are grateful for the quick response and continued support of our security team and our partners in law enforcement.” Credit: Columbia Police Dept. via Storyful
- Want to give you an overview of what's occurred this afternoon and kind of where we're at. I want to preface my comments with, this is very preliminary. A very active investigation right now. But there's some important pieces of information we think that's necessary that we put out right now.
At 2:00 or 3:00 this afternoon, a citizen contacted Richland Columbia 911 and reported gunfire at the mall near the Gap store. We started receiving a series of emergency calls after that. This prompted an all response from law enforcement. And of course, our Midland partners, it's a variety of agencies. And I'll recognize them just in a minute.
But we had a hodgepodge of law enforcement responding to this particular location at the mall. And for those of you who may not know, this is an area that covers multiple jurisdictions. And that's why we train and have all-area responses to situations like this.
We're asking that the public stay out of the area. As I said, it's very active. We have a lot of the roads that are closed down. But we ask for continued cooperation with that.
We still have law enforcement teams inside the mall. We've accounted for everybody that's been injured. And I'll speak to that in just a moment. But the reason we still have teams inside the mall is they're clearing. It's a large mall. We're clearing stores one at a time. We did an initial sweep for injureds, people that were injured. And we got them with medical personnel and got them transported.
We had the individual stores that took immediate security measures and locked their stores down. And we had everybody shelter in place. So we have teams now methodically going through the mall and removing folks that they find that have sheltered in place and moving them to the unification site.
We have established a unification site, which is just up the street at the Fairfield Inn. That's located at 320 Columbiana Drive. We have a conference room secured there. And we're asking anyone that was separated or might be looking for a loved one or friends, that's where they can report or they can call there at 803-732-4436. Again, that's 803-732-4436. As law enforcement teams locate people in the mall, that is where they will be taking them for reunification, again, with friends and family.
What we know currently-- and again, I say this is very preliminary. We had 12 injured, no fatalities, I repeat, no fatalities. 10 suffered gunshot wounds. Eight were transported, two self-reported to area hospitals. Of the eight gunshot wounds, two are in critical but stable, six are stable. We had two that were injured during the stampede, non-gunshot wounds but were injured.
And again, we've transported folks to three area hospitals, Park Ridge, Richland, and Lexington. We have three people detained. What we know is at least three people were seen with firearms inside the mall. And at least one person fired a weapon. That could change.
We're asking anybody with information that may have witnessed, may have video, or has heard something to contact our Criminal Investigations Bureau. That number is 803-545-3525. There will be investigators standing by to receive those calls.
I want to say thank you to our citizens that exercised courage and were very patient with us, took good direction, and have cooperated 100% with everything that we have asked. Mall security has been invaluable in this. The management's been on site with as well as their security. And we thank them for that and especially the security measures that went on inside the mall itself.
Obviously, it's unfortunate that we have to do this. But you can tell that training and preparation paid off in this situation. It was very chaotic. Our law enforcement partners that I mentioned, which we could not do our job in the Midlands and in Columbia without, its the Richland County Sheriff's Department, Lexington County Sheriff's Department, Newbury Sheriff's Department, SLED, State Highway Patrol, Triple P, Irmo PD, ATF, US Marshals Service, the FBI.
We had Lexington EMS, Richland EMS. Our fire department's been instrumental in scene management and assisting us. They've stood shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement in the chaos and in the danger area.
Again, our mall staff has been phenomenal. And of course, as you can see, we have great support here. Our city manager's been on scene, our mayor and several of our council members. So we will share information as we get it. What's important that we put out now is that we have no fatalities, 10 injured. And we have a unification site set up and a hotline, if you will, for anybody that has information.
We know a lot of people saw a lot of different things. And they fled out of safety, and we get that. We're asking, please take a moment. Collect your thoughts, and reach out to law enforcement at the number we've provided. I'll take a few questions.
- Do you have a sense of the motive? Was it a fight? What led to this?
- This is still early. We don't believe this was random. And I think that's very important in situations like this. We believe that the individuals that were armed knew each other. And there were some type of conflict that occurred that resulted in gunfire.
This was not a situation where we had some random person show up at the mall to discharge a firearm and just injure people.
- Do you know how many shots were fired at this time?
- No, we don't. We know that there was multiple rounds fired though.
- Or any of the people injured children?
- The oldest gunshot victim was 73. And the youngest gunshot victim was 15.
- And were all three suspects detained-- were they all armed, or was it one, two armed?
- So what I said was we have three people detained. We have not called them suspects. They are three people that we would classify as people of interest at this point. We're reviewing video and talking to people that witnessed. And their classification may change. But right now, what we're releasing is three people that are being detained. And we don't have any information on types of weapons. I'm sure that'll be the next question.
- Were they armed at all when you detained them?
- What were the ages of those folks who were detained?
- We're not saying.
- Is it standard to have SLED and the FBI in an investigation like this?
- It's standard to have an all response. There's not a major event or major scene like this that we don't get a response from our partners at SLED and the FBI.
- Is there a concern that it could have been gang-related or even related to drugs at this time?
- That's preliminary. It's too early to know. Again, what we can say is it appeared that they did know one another. Thank you.