COLUMBIA, SC (WIS-TV) — A large number of law enforcement officers and first responders are in and around the popular Columbiana Centre shopping mall after gunshots fired inside the complex Saturday night.
Officers from multiple jurisdictions responded to the Harbison Road area just after 7 p.m.
Shots were initially reported outside Dillard’s and T-Mobile, according to scanner traffic.
Those shots, according to Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, came after a fist fight escalated. Holbrook said two men were fighting when a third male jumped in. At some point, two of the men pulled out guns and fired into the air.
The people involved in the incident then fled the area, Holbrook said. Two hours after the shooting, Holbrook says people were still hiding inside stores.
The chief said investigators have very limited descriptions of the men who were involved. Holbrook says police initially were looking for three suspects in the incident at the Columbiana Mall, but it appears the third man was only trying to break up the fight.
The chief says he hopes to release surveillance camera footage of the men soon.
“We’re taking in various reports now and we’re responding,” Holbrook said. “We have no other information to report in terms of locations of any suspects.”
Richland County Sheriff’s spokesman Curtis Wilson said although they’ve heard somebody was shot, it is unclear if that’s actually the case.
“We have no reports of victims on scene and no victim has shown up at the hospital at this point,” he said. “We have cleared the mall and there are no reports of any victims,” Wilson added.
Stacey Haltiwanger, owner of a boutique in the mall, said she was in her store about 7 p.m. and heard noises that she now realizes were likely gunshots.
Haltiwanger was running the cash register inside Classy & Sassy when she says she saw everyone in the mall in front of her stop whatever they were doing and start running.
“They were all running and leaving stuff behind, like there were snakes behind them,” she said.
Haltiwanger said she did not see the shooting happen.
The Columbia Police Department has reported on Twitter that no victims have been located. The mall closed early after the shooting.
Authorities have multiple roads in the area closed.
Dozens of police cars with lights flashing could be seen on the road around the mall, and traffic in the area was backed up for more than a mile. The mall is about a dozen miles outside the capital’s downtown, where three of the six remaining Republican presidential candidates were holding primary watch parties Saturday night.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report