One Person Injured During Panic at Florida Mall After Shoppers Thought They Heard Gunshots

Several people had minor injuries after a loud noise prompted them to flee the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, Fla., on Sunday, the police said.
Credit: Andres Leiva/Palm Beach Post, via Associated Press

Panicked shoppers fled a South Florida mall on Sunday after believing they heard gunshots, prompting police S.W.A.T. teams and federal agents to lock down the commercial center for several hours — but the authorities later said there was no evidence of a shooting.

A man hit his head on a door as he tried to evacuate the building, according to the police, who said the man was being treated at a local hospital. Several other people had minor injuries, the police said.

A spokesman for Delray Medical Center, where the man was taken, said he could not give out information on the patient’s condition.

The scare happened around 3 p.m. at the Town Center at Boca Raton, an upscale shopping mall about an hour north of Miami and right off Interstate 95. It was the latest unfounded report of a shooting at a public place since mass shootings in Odessa, Tex.; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, where a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in August.

“I think that a lot of this is the unfortunate state that we’re in relative to these critical incidents,” Chief Dan Alexander of the Boca Raton Police Department said during a news conference on Sunday night.

The Boca Raton police initially said on Twitter that the injured man had a gunshot wound, but in a subsequent statement said it was a “possible” gunshot wound.

By nightfall, Chief Alexander characterized the episode as a suspicious incident, saying that investigators had not found a weapon, shell casings or ammunition at the mall.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Neil Vigdor