911 calls show tense moments at Crabtree Valley Mall as chaos erupts

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Hundreds of people, many of them frantic, called 911 amid the chaos at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh.

There was a mysterious sound caught on cell phone video that caused people to rush out of the mall.

The entrance to Crabtree Valley Mall on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Amy Cutler/WNCN
Police said in a release Thursday that “There continues to be neither an indication that a gunshot was fired at Crabtree Valley Mall on Saturday, August 13, nor a means to definitively rule out that possibility.”

Many believed they had heard gunshots.

One 911 caller breathlessly reported, “Yes! Yes! There’s been a shooting at the mall, at Crabtree Valley Mall.”

That’s just one of about 300 calls made to 911 related to the incident last Saturday afternoon.

Some callers were trying to hide in stores, speaking quietly as they pleaded for help.

“We have us and a couple of different people who do not work here hidden in the back,” one caller whispered.

Another caller said that all the people in the store went into a closet. “We have babies, little kids and they’re shooting out there,” she said.

While many people heard the loud noise, some were unsure or mistaken about what they’d seen.

The 911 operator asked “Was someone hurt?” A called replied, “Yeah, someone was shot. I think. I heard a gunshot.”

But when pressed by the operator, the caller said, “Everyone just started running, so I’m not sure.”

Another caller reported that there was an active shooter by the food court. One security guard reported, “what I’m hearing is there was some kind of explosion.”

Raleigh police have sent audio of the sound to an FBI lab for analysis.

It’s unclear how long it will take to get the FBI’s report or if there will ever be a clear answer about what happened.

“I heard gunshots. I’m in the military sir. It was clearly gunfire,” one caller said.

“I heard the loud boom,” another 911 caller said. “And, people kind of looked confused for a moment before everyone started running.”

One caller who hadn’t seen or heard anything, nonetheless described the chaos in the mall to a dispatcher. “It is like total pandemonium here. Everyone is running and screaming.” After admitting not seeing what had happened, the caller said, “All I know is I was in the Belk store and people started running and screaming and saying there’s a gun. ‘Somebody is shooting somebody. Get out of the mall. Get out of the mall!'”

The chaos included one woman reportedly going into labor and another who couldn’t find her six-year-old after she ran outside with a stranger. “Now the lady is gone with my child!” she told the dispatcher.

Some callers thought they’d seen someone with a gun. Police have reached out to those callers and found what they saw may have been a man police questioned who had a concealed carry permit or they were simply mistaken once thoroughly questioned.

There were 12 people taken to the hospital and another nine treated on site, police confirmed, as people rushed for the exits.

One 911 caller said, “I’ve got a 25-year-old female injured from a fall. Multiple compound fractures, slight breathing. Difficulty breathing.”

Another caller said he saw a man jump off the parking garage. “I have escaped the building with my daughter,” he said. “I saw a man who was, I saw him climb over the third tier of the parking garage and he jumped off. I don’t know what to do, maybe to escape.”

A different caller also reported what appears to have been the same incident. “We were walking to our car, and we just saw this guy fall through the air. He was on the upper level,” the caller said. “With the shooting, he just thought he could jump off the parking deck. He didn’t make it. So, he hit the ground pretty hard underneath.”

Wake County EMS could not give out specifics about the man but did say no one’s injuries were life-threatening.

911 operators tried to keep callers calm and gave advice to some nervous callers. One asked the operator if it was safe to come out of the store in which they were hiding. “No ma’am,” said the dispatcher “Stay right where you are. Keep the doors locked and don’t let anyone enter or exit.”

Some turned off their cell phone so as not to give their position away if it were to make a sound. A good number of the 911 calls came from people off site, calling on behalf of a loved one inside the mall who had called them.

One man calling on behalf of his girlfriend was crying and threatening to come and handle the situation if authorities didn’t “shoot those mother (expletive).”

CBS North Carolina’s Amy Cutler, Jonathan Rodriguez and Clifton Barnes contributed to this report.

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