SWEETWATER, Fla. (WSVN) — Dolphin Mall was evacuated shortly before closing time following reports of shots fired, Saturday night.
A heavy presence from the Miami-Dade and Sweetwater Police departments remained at the shopping center for hours. A 7News Mastcam captured ambulances and police cars arriving at the scene.
According to Miami-Dade Police, no one was hurt. As of 7 a.m., no shooter had been located.
“Our SWAT Team did a thorough search of the interior of the whole mall, and we did not find any active scene. At the moment, we don’t have any casings, we don’t have any victims injured at this current time,” said Miami-Dade P0lice Detective Argemis Colome. “The investigation’s going to continue. We’re still going to be looking at the cameras. We’re going to continue to do as much as we can.”
Shoppers told 7News they heard a boom. Others said they heard gunshots.
“Everyone started closing the doors, all the shops started closing their doors, and they told us to exit the building,” said a shopper. “Then we’re walking towards the car parked down there and everyone started running from there, so we started running as well. And then we hid in the car park.”
Shopper Linda Quintana said she was at the Gap store with her family when employees began closing the doors and told shoppers to get out as quickly as possible.
“We were at the store and we heard screaming,” said one shopper. “They said, ‘Oh, my God, there’s somebody shooting in the hallway. Nobody move!’ I was the only one who was like, ‘Get your kids. We gotta go, we gotta go.’ And then everybody started screaming, everybody started running, and we just went outside.”
“We were at The Polo Store, and everybody started closing the doors, and they told us to exit the building,” said a male shopper.
Others were held on lockdown inside a restaurant.
“We stayed inside the restaurant. They told us to stay, it’s better than to run,” said a woman.
Video posted on Twitter showed people fleeing the mall with their hands raised.
A visibly frazzled shopper was still reeling from the frightening situation. “We saw that everybody was running, so we just followed the crowd,” he said. “We heard somebody say that there were shots [fired], so we ran to the hotel, and then we saw more people running, and there were shots again. It was bad.”
Quintana, who was at the store with her newborn baby, ran out of the mall carrying her child. When they encountered the chaotic scene outside, she and her loved ones hid in the parking lot for about 20 minutes before they returned to their car.
Cellphone video recorded from inside a closed store captured armed police officers walking through the mall.
“When officers responded immediately, they started taking people out of the mall. Then they started the search components, they asked for additional units with the Miami-Dade Police Department, FLHP, City of Doral, FIU,” said a responder. “We have multiple agencies here, several agencies from Miami-Dade County.”
The evacuation caused traffic gridlock on the parking lot as shoppers attempted to leave the mall.
A Sweetwater Police spokesperson said Miami-Dade Police is handling the investigation.
As of Sunday afternoon, reports of an active shooter remained unfounded.
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