1 dead following Mall of America fight, shooting

police officer talking in a conference press
Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges speaks during a press conference at the Mall of America about a shooting on Friday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated Dec. 24, 10:12 a.m. | Posted 8:13 p.m., Dec. 23

A 19-year-old man was shot and killed Friday night at the Mall of America during a fight in the Nordstrom department store. The gunfire led to a lockdown of the mall for about an hour. Videos posted to social media showed terrified shoppers running for cover.

Investigators were working to identify suspects. Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges is expected to update reporters Saturday at 5 p.m.

At a briefing late Friday night, Hodges said a Bloomington officer in the mall noticed people running and entered the Nordstrom store about 7:50 p.m. The officer found the 19-year-old shot multiple times. Lifesaving measures failed.

Surveillance video showed “some type of altercation” between two groups of young men, with about five to nine people involved, the chief said. During the fight, one of the people involved pulled out a gun and shot the 19-year-old, said Hodges, adding that he’d spoken already to the victim’s family.

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“I really feel bad for them and their loss,” he said. “This is before Christmas and now they’re having to bury one of their loved ones.” He said he believed it was the first fatal shooting at the mall.

An innocent bystander’s coat was grazed by a bullet during the confrontation, Hodges added.

Calling the shooting “just flat out stupid,” the exasperated chief noted that his department had 16 officers in the mall on Friday during the busy shopping days before Christmas “and they still decide to this,” he said of the shooter and the others tied to the fight.

“I’m confident that we’re going to catch these people and lock them up,” he said. “If anybody helps these people — buy them a happy meal, give them a ride — we’re going to lock you up.”

He said Nordstrom would be closed on Saturday but that the mall was expected to be open for business Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Clarence Ojo from St. Cloud, Minn., was in the Nordstrom store on the third floor when he heard an announcement over the public address system that the mall was in lockdown. He did not hear shots but saw people running toward the exit.

digital sign that says lockdown all clear
Mall of America lifted the lockdown after shooting Friday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Elsewhere at the mall, Santa Sam said he was visiting with children when he was told by his photographer to go to the back room because the mall was going on lockdown.

Sam, who asked that his last name not be used, said he thought Santa visits would likely be canceled Saturday. He received the all-clear about 9:14 p.m. but went out for one more Santa experience for a family who’d waited a long time to meet him.

police put up tape
A police officer puts up police tape outside the entrance to Nordstrom at the Mall of America in Bloomington after reports of shots fired on Friday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

In August, gunfire erupted at the mall following a confrontation. No one was injured. Five people were charged in the incident. In October the mall installed a metal detector at one of their entrances. A shooting last December on New Year’s Eve left two people injured.

two people transporting emergency equipment next to an abulance
Two first responders and an ambulance are seen at the entrance to Nordstrom at the Mall of America in Bloomington after reports of shots fired on Friday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Hodges said the mall continues to evaluate its security measures. “We have an incident where if someone decides they want to pull out a gun and shoot somebody with a complete disrespect for human life, I don’t know what we can do to stop that.”

Via KARE 11: Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges speaks to reporters late Friday night about the shooting at the Mall of America:

This story includes reporting from MPR News’ Sarah Thamer, Sam Stroozas and Matt Sepic.

Editor’s note: A previous version included a detail from Chief Hodges’ presser that the chief updated Saturday having to do with a mall officer’s response. The above version is corrected.