A suspect has been apprehended in connection with a shooting that left 14 people injured at a crowded shopping mall in South Carolina‘s capital on Saturday.
Jewayne M. Price, 22, who was one of three people first arrested by law enforcement as a person of interest, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with unauthorised carrying of a weapon, according to Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook.
It’s unclear whether Price has retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Fourteen people were injured during the shooting at Columbiana Centre, Holbrook said in a news release Saturday. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 73.
According to Holbrook, no deaths have been recorded, but nine individuals have been shot and five have been injured while attempting to exit the mall for safety.
The 73-year-old victim is still being treated, but the other patients have been freed from nearby hospitals or will be released soon, according to police.
“We don’t think this happened by chance,” Holbrook added. “We believe they knew each other and that the gunshot was caused by something.”
Investigators believe at least three suspects flashed firearms inside the mall, but they are still trying to figure out how many of them actually discharged them. At least one firearm was seized, according to police.
Daniel Johnson, who was visiting from Alabama, said he and his family were eating in the food court when they heard gunshots and saw people fleeing.
People were shouting for their children and wives, according to Johnson, and fleeing by knocking over tables in the food court.
“Everyone was frantically trying to get outdoors,” Johnson explained. “You could see baby carriages tipped over, people’s phones, and dropped keys as I was walking out.” It was a bit of a tumultuous affair.”
After allowing the gathering to disperse, Johnson claimed he gathered his wife, daughter, and son and began walking toward the exit.
“The most important thing for me was to make sure that our family was okay and to get them out safely because this is not something we enjoy doing on Easter weekend.”
Hours after the shooting, a heavy police presence remained in the area, however authorities began allowing more traffic to pass through the streets around the shopping complexes and strip malls, which are usually busy on weekends. Officers were also stationed outside a nearby hotel that had been designated as a reunification spot for victims and their relatives.
Workers from a few stores remained huddled in the mostly empty parking lot Saturday evening, waiting for authorities to let them back inside so they could get their car keys and personal things before leaving. They claimed they didn’t hear or see anything during the shooting, but that they followed the mall’s alarm system and were quickly evacuated by police. They refused to reveal their identities, citing business policy.
“Today’s isolated, senseless act of violence is terribly heartbreaking, and our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected,” “In a statement, Columbiana Centre said. “We appreciate our security team’s prompt response and continuous support, as well as our law enforcement partners.”