Four people were injured, one critically, and three people were taken into police custody after a shooting Friday afternoon at Independence Center Mall.
The shooting happened around 2:30 p.m. in a common area of the mall, near the north entryway, said Officer Jack Taylor, a department spokesman.
The identifies of the gunshot victims were not known. All were believed to be adults.
Detectives believed the shooting began with a dispute between two groups of people, Taylor said, though the exact circumstances were still being investigated Friday.
“I don’t know what the discussion was. I don’t know what the interaction was at this point. But those two groups of people met up that’s how the shooting began,” Taylor said.
The three persons of interest were taken into custody in the area of the Independence Center, Taylor said.
Independence officers maintained a large presence at the mall as the front entrance remained blocked off by police tape. Officers were seen coming and going through the doorways as crime scene investigators were called out to process the scene.
Authorities say it is not considered an active shooter situation, and that there is no ongoing threat to the public.
People have been cleared from the mall. Police said anyone attempting to pick someone up at the mall should meet them at the northeast corner of the mall parking lot, near the Club Car Wash.
They’ve also asked the public to stop calling 911 to ask about the incident.
“As you can imagine, our dispatchers are very busy right now. We will update here on social media when we have more information to share,” Independence police said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Visiting the mall on Friday afternoon were brothers Nick Stephens, 21, and Chris Stephens, 25, who live nearby. They were having a meal in the food court when the panicked and confused situation unfolded.
Chris Stephens was wearing headphones and Nick Stephens was eating when he heard what sounded like a chair being dragged across the floor. He looked up to see doors closing and people starting to run.
“And that’s when I realized like, yeah, it wasn’t no chair. Like, people (are) shooting,” Nick Stephens said.
The brothers ran toward the door as others in the mall scattered for the exits, Nick Stephens said, and they helped up kids who had fallen down. Then they heard another volley of gunfire.
“ It was just crazy. I’m just glad like, I got out of there. And the people I helped got out of there,” Nick Stephens said.
“It went from like zero to one hundred real quick,” he added.
After they both got outside, Chris Stephens said they continued to hear what sounded like gunshots coming from within the mall.
“It was dream-like. You know? Just surreal,” Chris Stephens said.
Both brothers said they felt thankful to get out unharmed. And they offered condolences to the victims.
“Prayers to the families and the victims and everybody,” Chris Stephens said.