As shoppers made last-minute stops before Christmas at the Towson Town Center Monday night, a body lay under a sheet outside Nordstrom.
A man was fatally shot about 6:22 p.m. on a parking lot sidewalk outside a service entrance to the department store, Baltimore County police said. Police said Monday night they had no suspects, and did not release the identity of the victim, described only as a black man.
With six days until Christmas, shoppers appeared unaware of the incident. All the entry doors remained open. Holiday shopping continued as usual.
Police closed off some of the exits from the mall. Officers trained to identify suspicious behavior canvassed the building, police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.
"It's the height of the shopping season," Armacost said. "We are very concerned about safety."
It's not the first time the Towson Town Center has seen a fatal shooting.
In February 2005, William Bassett, 58, a popular St. Paul's School science teacher and dean, was killed during a botched robbery, found fatally shot on the fifth floor of a parking garage at the mall.
That killing prompted a Baltimore County law requiring shopping centers with 15 or more retail businesses to install security cameras. The mall also upgraded lighting in the parking lot and added security officers.
Armacost declined to comment on whether police had surveillance footage of the shooting.
On Monday night, police blocked vehicle access to several mall entrances. However, cars were able to enter and exit the mall via Dulaney Valley Road, where traffic was jammed.
Later in the evening, police appeared to escort a woman to the crime scene. When she saw the body, she burst into wails audible several hundred feet away.
All officers from the Towson precinct were called in to work the case, said Armacost, who declined to say how many spent shell casings were found on the sidewalk.
She also would not say whether anyone was questioned.
Last month, two people from Prince George's County were fatally shot in the parking lot of Arundel Mills mall. When the suspect walked out of his home in District Heights and shot a police officer, Prince George's County police fatally shot him.
In March, a female employee at Macy's in Marley Station in Glen Burnie suffered debilitating injuries when she was carjacked in the mall parking lot after she left work.
On Monday, the Towson Town Center was mostly empty by 9 p.m., but some shoppers remained.
Fred Hiser, 53, of Towson, said he saw police at the entrances to the garages when he was coming into the mall.
"The most unfortunate thing is that someone lost their life, probably over something absolutely ridiculous," he said. "It's the second time it's happened here."
Brittany Thomas, 24, of Baltimore, said she was surprised about the shooting, but "I don't feel unsafe right now."
"I'm actually surprised the mall is still open, considering someone got shot outside," she said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Jacques Kelly and Andrea F. Siegel and Jon Meoli of Patuxent Publishing contributed to this article.
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