Police seek public's help finding man who fired gun in mall

People are evacuated after reports of shots fired at the Galleria at Crystal Run, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Middletown, N.Y. (Allyse Pulliam/Times Herald-Record via AP)

WALLKILL, N.Y. — Police on Monday asked the public for help finding a man who fired a gun in a mall crowded with holiday shoppers.

Wallkill police Chief Robert Hertman described the man as white or Hispanic and about 6-foot-2, with dark hair, a beard and a mustache. The man was wearing a dark jacket and khaki pants and was with a woman, a young child and an infant. The woman is described as having blonde hair and wearing a dark jacket and maroon pants.

At a news conference Monday, Hertman said it's unknown if the Sunday afternoon shooting at the Galleria at Crystal Run in the Orange County town of Wallkill was intentional or was an accident.

Hertman said a woman and her 12-year-old son suffered minor injuries to their lower extremities but he didn't know if they were hit by the gunshot.

A round from a handgun was fired outside an American Eagle clothing store in the mall, 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of New York City.

The shooting occurred on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. By midday Sunday throngs of shoppers were filling the mall, home to more than 100 tenants, including Macy's, J.C. Penney and Target. The loud bang from the gunfire sent shoppers scurrying for safety, either by exiting the mall or by hiding in back rooms with store employees.

"We went into full lockdown," Aaron Etienne, an employee of Trak 23 Clothing Co., told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown. "We slammed the gates shut. I saw police officers with guns and K-9s walking by."

Police conducted store-by-store searches and escorted people out of the mall. Etienne said he and four other people huddled in a storeroom for about an hour until a police officer led them to the parking lot.

Hertman said it's legal for a person with a permit to take a gun into a mall, although the Galleria's website said the property has a policy prohibiting weapons.

When it appeared there was some type of threat, security personnel at H&M shut the gates on the two-story retailer and sent workers to a storeroom, part of the active-shooter drill the employees had practiced.

"With everything going on in the world, you have to be prepared," employee Aiyana Raiz said.

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