A man argued with his former wife at a Southern California mall before shooting her to death and turning the gun on himself, authorities said, leading shoppers to run into stores and out the exits Saturday.
The 33-year-old Los Angeles-area gunman was wounded and taken to a hospital, officials said. The man was listed in critical condition on Saturday evening.
The man went to a store at The Oaks mall in the city of Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles, and had an argument with the 30-year-old victim before shooting her, Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said.
The divorced couple have children, who have been found safe, said Buschow, adding that initial indications show the shooting was a murder and attempted suicide.
The gunshots at the shopping center with open-air and indoor shopping space led to some chaos and a lockdown.
Mall employee Stephanie Fallon said she sat in a closet for almost two hours.
“I was able to kind of look up some articles, then every few minutes, see if there were any updates,” said Fallon.
Jeffrey Simpson was shopping with his mother at a department store when an announcement came over the intercom about a threat outside the mall.
“I went to Nordstrom to get pants, and the next thing I know, the doors are being sealed,” Simpson said.
He said he and his mom were a little shaken but okay. They were in the store for more than an hour but shoppers were free to move around and employees were helping people stay comfortable and calm, Simpson said.
Family members who were at different locations in the mall when the shooting happened had tearful reunions when the chaos subsided.
“We were stuck in a different store. We split up, so it was just hard not being with her,” said shopper Sherry Samuels with tears in her eyes after she found her daughter nearly two hours later.
“I didn’t see the actual shooter, but I just saw, like, four shots — I heard four shots,” said teen Aman Sehra.
“Then everyone started pushing each other down the stairs to run, and then people were screaming gunshots. So my dad grabbed me and ran into Vans,” his brother Shawn said.
Some who were in the mall hid and waited until it was safe to come out.