INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Independence Center shut down early New Year’s Eve once again as shots fired inside the mall sent shoppers scurrying for the exits. One teen was shot at least one person detained.
“It was absolutely terrifying it was a literal stampede of people trying to get away. Everyone was pushing people away people were trying to run up the escalators to get out,” Jordyn Mart said.
Mart feared for her safety as shots rang out inside Independence Center but then she turned her attention towards a child in need.
“I ran toward Macy’s because that was the closet exit to where I was. There was a 13-year-old girl who was frozen with fear and she was about to run back out toward the gunfire because she had been separated from her family and was really scared,” Mart said.
She says the store allowed people to take shelter before locking the doors from the mall, so people could get out, but no possible shooter get in.
“Nobody knew what to do or exactly where anything was coming from. No one was sure where the gunmen were and which they were running,” she said.
“There were persons involved in an altercation that can happen rather quickly but this isn’t some sort of random active shooter scenario,” Independence Police Officer John Syme explained.
Off-duty officers working security inside the mall found a boy, 16, who had been shot in the leg and applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Independence Police detained one possible suspect as Kansas City Police and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office assisted.
Saturday the mall had to shut down and 10 people were arrested after a fight between several hundred unaccompanied teens.
“I don’t know if any way if this is connected with that but obviously our police presence is needed in an area where we are going to have a lot of young kids or people causing problems,” Officer Syme said.
That massive fight preceded by a few others, prompted Independence Center to place a ban on unaccompanied teens under 17. It runs Friday through Sunday, meaning it will take effect a day after the shooting.
“I was kind of afraid to come today because I was literally talking with my manager at work saying any day I feel like somebody is going to be bringing guns to what’s going on and sure enough that’s exactly what seems to have happened now,” Mart said.
While most people were able to evacuate the mall through available exits fairly quickly, Mart stuck around to make sure the lost scared girl was reunited with her family.