COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A confrontation between two groups of juveniles led to shots being fired inside an Ohio shopping mall Monday, police said. No one was injured in the incident, the second shooting at the mall on the north side of Columbus in two weeks.
Reports of the afternoon shooting came just minutes after Columbus police announced they’d finally identified the second suspect in the March 3 shooting. No one was injured in that incident which saw two men firing multiple shots at each other in and around a children’s clothing store.
Police again descended on Polaris Fashion Place on Monday, with multiple cruisers positioned around the entrance and officers helping escort customers out.
One witness told WBNS-TV she was checking out at a store when she heard “probably about three gunshots.” A manager led customers and employees to a storeroom and called police, the woman told the station.
Another woman told The Columbus Dispatch she had just finished eating when she “heard a lady say ‘No, no, no,’ and then we heard pow pow pow pow pow.”
At least three people were involved and at least one person fired a weapon, said Sgt. James Fuqua, a Columbus police spokesman.
“We’re trying to determine if both groups actually shot at each other and there was an exchange of gunfire,” he said.
A message seeking comment was left Monday with the mall’s owner.
Like many U.S. cities, Columbus is experiencing a huge spike in gun violence. Police announced last week the number of gunshots detected by the city’s ShotSpotter stations nearly doubled between Oct. 1 and the beginning of March compared to the same time a year earlier.
Columbus saw a record 175 homicides last year, the majority firearm-related, and is already on pace to beat that record again, with 40 killings as of March 10.
In recent weeks, police in central Ohio have also sounded an alarm about a sharp uptick in crimes by juveniles, mostly car thefts and car jackings. Fuqua said it was troubling that the suspects in Monday’s shooting “are clearly young people yet again in our city committing acts of violence.”
Police have identified both suspects in in the March 3 shooting and issued arrest warrants. On Monday, police asked the newly identified suspect “to surrender himself peacefully to authorities to ensure his safety and the safety of all parties involved.”