BURLINGTON, Washington — A gunman is on the loose after an attack that left three people dead and two wounded Friday night at a mall in Burlington, Washington, authorities said.
Sgt. Mark Francis, a spokesman for the state patrol, initially said four people were killed, but later revised that number to three. All three were women, he said, and one man was being transported to a hospital with severe injuries. Another man received non-life threatening injuries.
Police are sweeping stores in Cascade Mall, searching for at least one shooter, Francis said.
Authorities released a photo of a man believed to be the gunman.
“Here is the shooter. We believe just one shooter. … Armed with rifle,” Francis tweeted.
Francis said police are “actively searching for suspect, tracking leads.”
Washington State Trooper Rick Johnson told CNN they had reports of the suspect “walking toward the freeway, had reports of him behind… some buildings, they’re canvassing the area right now, and … has not been located at this time.”
The three people killed were inside Macy’s, Francis said.
In a tweet, Francis warned residents to avoid the mall and to follow road closures. He said survivors would be transported by bus to a nearby church.
Moviegoers asked to leave
Witnesses described chaotic scenes and confusion when the shooting started.
Brandi Montreuil said she was at the movies when attendants told them to leave.
“I didn’t know anything,” she said. “The theater attendant came in and apologized for stopping the movie and said they (theater staff) were asked to have everyone leave immediately.”
She said at first she thought it was a drill.
“But you immediately think about what happened in Aurora, Colorado, so you start moving faster,” she said, referring to the shooting at a movie theater in 2012 that left 12 dead.
When they got outside, they saw numerous police vehicles, but no officers in sight, Montreuil said.
“We didn’t know if it was a fire so we were looking for smoke of some kind. Then a few officers started canvassing through the crowds asking if anybody saw anything.”
She said an officer “with a large gun started yelling for people to leave, and fast.”
Burlington is about an hour north of Seattle.
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