BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (HPD) — Five people have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a 19-year-old boy at the Mall of America, shutting down the nation’s largest mall for a of the last days of the holiday shopping season, police said Saturday.
At an evening press conference, Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges announced the arrests in connection with the Friday night shooting in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington and revealed that all will face murder charges, the Minneapolis Daily reported. Star Tribune.
Hodges added that the arrested suspects were two 18-year-olds and three 17-year-olds, according to the Star Tribune, and they were detained in the morning at a home in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, by officers from the SWAT tactical squad of the police from three jurisdictions.
The police chief said one of the 18-year-olds is believed to have fired, although another suspect may also have fired a weapon. Authorities are still looking for a sixth suspect.
“In Bloomington, if you come in and murder people in our mall, you get one of these for Christmas,” Hodges was quoted as saying by the newspaper while holding up an orange prison jumpsuit.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted Saturday that the shooting at the mall was “absolutely unacceptable. We are in contact with local authorities to provide them with the support and resources they need.”
Police did not identify the victim but Hodges said he and Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse spoke Friday night with the family of the deceased.
It appeared there was some sort of altercation between two groups that escalated into a fistfight and someone pulled out a gun and shot the victim multiple times, according to police. The entire incident lasted only about 30 seconds.
A nearby Bloomington police officer — one of 16 assigned to the mall Friday that day — heard the shots around 7:50 p.m. The agent unsuccessfully applied measures to save the life of the victim.
The full closure of the mall lasted for about an hour before the mall announced in a tweet that customers were being sent abroad.
Videos posted on social media show customers seeking to hide in stores, and the mall told people to find shelter. Some videos showed customers running when a loud shot was heard.
Since its opening in 1992, the Mall of America has been a tourist destination and community gathering place. It prohibits weapons on its premises, but shoppers are generally not required to go through metal detectors. The mall announced in October that it was testing a “weapons detection system” at one of its entrances.
The mall, located in a suburb near Minneapolis, was placed under a total lockdown in August after a shooting in which some customers ran for cover; and two people were injured at the scene apparently during an altercation the previous New Year’s Eve.