A gunman opened fire inside a busy shopping mall, wounding at least six people and taking three others hostage in a music store before he surrendered to a police commando team, authorities said. Witnesses described seeing a clean-cut man walking backward through the mall Sunday, firing a rifle. At least six people were injured, one critically, as shoppers and store clerks scrambled for cover. Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said the suspect was 20 and lived in Tacoma, but he had no other details or possible motives. The gunman came out of the Sam Goody music store without a gun and surrendered to the police commando team, Fulghum said. He said police were interviewing the victims and the three hostages, two men and a woman, to determine what happened during the nearly four hours he was inside.
While the suspect was in the music store, employee Joe Hudson was able to pick up a phone call from The Associated Press and say he and others had been taken hostage. He said little more but could be heard telling others that he was talking to the AP.
Susan Serveau said she also called her daughter, Kathy Riggans, 24, a manager at Sam Goody, as soon as she heard about the shooting.
"She was upset and scared. She was crying," Serveau said, standing in a parking lot near the mall. "All she would say was that she was OK." Authorities said they began getting calls about 12:15 p.m. that shots had been fired inside the Tacoma Mall. The first caller said a gunman "was in the mall, walking along, firing," Fulghum said. State Patrol and police units from nearby agencies clustered around an entrance at the south end.
Inside, Stacy Wilson, 29, of Bonney Lake, heard a popping noise and turned around.
"I saw the gunman randomly shooting. I ran with a group of women to Victoria's Secret," Wilson said. She said they crouched behind a wall in the store, and when the shooting stopped, an employee ran out and closed a security gate at the front.
Wilson said she heard 15 to 20 shots.
"He was walking backward and shooting. I couldn't see his face," she said. "Everyone was running and screaming."
A man told KING-TV the gunman was smiling as he fired an assault rifle in bursts of four to five shots.
The man said he told his daughter and grandson to run and then hid in the back of a store with his wife and granddaughter. He says they helped a woman who was shot in the leg, bandaging the wound and wrapping her in blankets. I.L.
The strike was defensive in nature and came in response to three attacks on the US military in February