GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Greenville Mall reopened Saturday morning after a shooting there Friday night sent two men to the hospital. More details on the shooting have also been released by Greenville Police.
Officials said they received the call at around 6:30 p.m. Friday of shots fired at the mall. Police said they found two men injured inside, near the area of American Eagle. Preliminary information indicated there was a fight that led to both men being shot by another person.
Both individuals were taken to ECU Health Medical Center. Police identified the victims as Theodore Devon Dunn, Jr., 21, and Irashamire Raashad Perkins, 22, both of Greenville. Dunn’s injuries were not considered life-threatening. Perkins was still hospitalized and receiving treatment Saturday morning.
An active search continued Saturday to find the suspect, who fled the scene. Police did not say whether any other people were involved and if the search was for just one suspect.
Chris Bennett was at the mall Friday and wasn’t sure initially what was going on.
“Actually … My first thought was that people were maybe arguing over some merchandise or something,” Bennett said.
Some customers who were at the mall on Saturday witnessed the incident Friday night.
“I thought that maybe it was a balloon … and some other people thought maybe it was, you know, just something went wrong somewhere, but then everybody started looking like no that was gunshots,” said Gracie Harrington.
Then came the crowds.
“They were knocking down clothes racks which you know … they were in a hurry … they were getting out of there. So, that’s when I started realizing something’s going on,” Henry Parker said.
“What seemed like hundreds of people just all came running into Belk and they just seemed to come from everywhere and were screaming, crying and just people pouring out the exits,” Bennett said.
Police said an officer hired by Belk for security heard the shots fired and responded immediately. No other Greenville Police officers were working security there at the time.
In a media release Saturday, GPD reports Chief Ted Sauls planned to meet with mall management next week to address security recommendations moving forward. Additional police security has worked before at the mall during the holiday season.
“It was not a random act,” Maj. David Bowen with the Greenville Police Department said about the shooting during a press conference Friday night. “This was a dispute that occurred in the mall. So, fortunately, nobody else was injured.
“And we’re working with, like I said, mall management. I’m also thankful for the response by the Greenville Police officers as well as ECU PD (East Carolina University police), who helped us get people out of the parking lot and get businesses cleared.”
The mall was quickly evacuated and there were no additional injuries. A number of police officers and detectives were inside the mall late Friday night conducting the investigation and collecting evidence.
The incident happened on Black Friday, which is considered the busiest shopping day of the year. Before the shooting, the mall and the parking lot were full of shoppers taking advantage of deals that were going on inside.
In a media statement Saturday, GPD said, “While this appears to have been an isolated incident between individuals who were known to each other, and not an ‘active shooter’ situation, the Greenville Police Department recognizes thousands of shoppers who were out and about for the holiday weekend were exposed to this unnecessary violence. We also acknowledge it comes at a time of heightened awareness across the country — with several mass casualty incidents occurring in other states in just the past week.
“We are grateful there were no further injuries and want to assure the Greenville community we are working around the clock to identify everyone involved. As an added reassurance, GPD officers have started our annual holiday patrols of retail locations and establishments. As such, you can expect to see an increased police presence when you are out and about.”
Greenville police also thanked the ECU Police Department “for their tremendous assistance with the response to the mall (Friday). We greatly value our partnership. We’d also like to applaud the store employees inside the mall, who based on numerous witness accounts, relied on their training and instincts, sheltering patrons in place inside their stores … undoubtedly helping to prevent further injury.”