Shooting inside the Visalia Mall injures two
VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- "It was horrible, it was horrible," said Shelli Barker. "Literally as if you were on a plane going down. Like that kind of panic." Witnesses describe a terrifying ordeal after two people are shot inside the Visalia Mall.
The shooting happened at an hour when the mall was pretty crowded. People Action News spoke with say once shots rang out, it was pure panic inside.
Barker said, "We were walking around browsing, window shopping, just two pops, two pops, that's all I heard."
That was all it took for Barker to grab her kids and duck for cover. Immediately, she says shoppers everywhere started doing the same.
"Crying, running, screaming grabbing their kids, you know trying to hide in any place they could find," said Barker. "It was just pure panic."
Diners inside the nearby Red Robin Restaurant got up from their tables and tried to escape through the back door.
Richard Cristobal, who was working at the restaurant, and tried to help people get out safely, tells Action News, "Then, I just heard screaming. Really, people were just screaming get out and that was pretty much it, then I kicked open the doors and started directing people out."
Alfredo Estrada also sprang into action. He was shopping inside Torrid when other customers saw the gunman walk by.
Estrada said, "And I could here them yelling, gun, gun, someone has a gun!"
Having worked at Torrid in the past, Estrada says he took the initiative by bringing people inside, then locking the doors.
"I turned to the associates, the people in the store, I said everybody get down," said Estrada. "Get the people in the fitting room, there's a man with a gun."
After calling 9-1-1, Estrada says police arrived in about five minutes with their guns drawn. Every store inside the mall was put on lockdown, as they tended to the victims, and searched for the gunman.
Barker said, "It's just something you don't expect, you don't expect to happen, and you're never prepared."
Customers had to stay inside the mall for about thirty minutes before being let out. As for what led to the shooting, the witnesses that Action News spoke with say they still have no idea.
Officers say the mall will be back open Saturday.
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