Mall of America reopens following gunfire, lockdown

A police officer walks up an escalator
A police officer walks up an escalator in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., after gunfire cause a lockdown of the mall on Thursday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The Mall of America reopened Friday as police continued to search for two people connected to gunfire inside the massive complex that sent shoppers and employees running for cover the day before.

Bloomington police say no one was struck by the gunfire Thursday afternoon. Officials temporarily locked down the mall, forcing some shoppers to shelter in place while others fled.

Police Chief Booker Hodges said two groups got into an altercation inside a Nike store. One group left, but two individuals in that group returned and one of them fired three rounds into the store where customers were shopping.

"Instead of walking away they decided to demonstrate a complete lack of respect for human life," he said at a Thursday night news conference, calling what happened an "isolated incident."

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Bloomington police said Friday morning that they were "continuing to investigate who is responsible for the shoots fired." They have not reported any arrests in the case.

Hodges said he believes the Mall of America is safe, and that he will continue to bring his own children to visit the mall. But he also said there are limits to how much can be done to prevent an incident like what happened Thursday.

People inside a locked store
People look out from a locked-down store inside the Mall of America on Thursday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

"I know the mall security here and our officers responded in a courageous manner, and they were there within 30 seconds. We've trained for this, we do this, and staff performed the way we trained," he said. "But again, if an individual decides that they have no regard for human life, I don't know any defense for that."

Mall spokesperson Dan Jasper said additional security and law enforcement would be present at the mall on Friday.

"People come to the mall every single day to create memories, to have fun, to spend time with their families and their loved ones. And I can't imagine how traumatic an event like this is for them. Our hearts go out to them," Jasper said at the Thursday night news conference. "We're grateful that due to the quick action of law enforcement and mall security, that nobody was seriously injured today. We will continue to reinforce those efforts to keep all of our visitors safe."

Groups of people leave a building
People leave the Mall of America after Thursday's lockdown.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Mall of America, which opened in 1992, is the largest in the U.S. and is a tourist destination and community gathering spot. It bans guns on the premises but does not have metal detectors upon entry.

Jasper said mall officials "continue to look at all security options."

"This is an open building in an open society. Metal detectors aren't common in retail, or food retailers, or most places that we go. But we have a lot of other security apparatus in place," he said.

The Mall of America was also the scene of a shooting on New Year’s Eve, when two people were wounded during an apparent altercation.