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Crime

‘We don’t have a bubble over us’: Shoppers describe fear, confusion during Arundel Mills scramble

Anne Arundel County Council member Allison Pickard doesn’t often get to go shopping alone.

She was thankful her children weren’t present Saturday afternoon as she was ushered through the back of a Timberland outlet at Arundel Mills Mall when a gun discharged in the food court, causing a panic among shoppers.

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Pickard, who didn’t hear the shot, was at first unsure why she was being evacuated. She was able to get in contact with an Anne Arundel County Police lieutenant who put her mind at ease that no one was shot. But crowds of Saturday shoppers at the mall evacuated fearing the gunfire came from an active shooter.

“People were confused, they were frightened,” said Pickard, a Democrat who represents Glen Burnie, Millersville and Severn.

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Police said two people were transported by emergency personnel for injuries after the 3:30 p.m. discharge. One person had an extremity injury from falling, and another had an unrelated medical issue, Lt. Jacklyn Davis, a spokesperson, said.

Video surveillance showed a male, who has not been identified, who appeared to be adjusting his pants when a firearm he was carrying discharged, according to a police news release. The person then left the area with other mall patrons, police said.

“All we heard was a loud commotion then screaming and crowds of people started running out,” one Twitter user wrote.

“I was there, and my family was terrified. I feel sick to my stomach,” another replied.

Pickard said she was relieved to find out the gunfire was accidental. But the evacuation was a reminder that “anything could happen.”

“We don’t have a bubble over us, Anne Arundel County,” she said.

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Anne Arundel detectives are investigating the incident and asked that anyone with information contact them at (410) 222-6155 or the Anne Arundel County Police Tip-Line at (410) 222-4700.

Simon, the Indianapolis-based real estate firm that operates the mall, did not respond to requests for comment. The publicly traded company owns properties across Asia, Europe and North America and says it generates billions in annual sales.

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Shortly after the shooting, County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement that the gunfire was a result of an increase of guns in public places, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that has led to the relaxation of Maryland’s standards for issuing concealed carry permits.

“Families enjoying a meal in the food court at Arundel Mills experienced the terror of not knowing whether they would be the latest victims of a mass shooting,” he said. “People fled, people were hurt, all because a firearm went off in a crowded public space.”

His opponent for the county executive seat in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, Jessica Haire, said Pittman relating the gunfire to the Supreme Court decision was “political.”

“His reaction is based on half information,” Haire said. “We don’t know if the weapon was legal, illegal, if he had a concealed carry permit, or didn’t have a permit.”

Capital Gazette reporter Rebecca Ritzel contributed to this report.


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