Maryland is the scene of yet another shocking incident of gun violence, which leaves three people dead at a suburban mall. Shoppers in the mall reported hearing heavy objects falling around them and the sound of gunshots at around 11:00 AM this morning. When the police arrived on the scene, they found three people dead, one of whom is thought to be the shooter as his body was found near a gun and some ammunition. The scene is “believed to be secure” read a tweet sent at half past noon, from the police department.
Shoppers at the mall say they heard about 8 – 10 gunshots in the vicinity of the food court. Many of them took refuge in the back rooms and were later seen walking out of the building in tears.
Colin Reddy, a mall employee, told a CNN reporter that he “heard a loud boom.” He went on to say that he thought it was construction noise, because there was work being done at the mall. Then he heard a succession of “booms” and saw everyone running.
Recent images on Twitter show employees hiding in a stock room and a wall riddled with bullet holes. As soon as the shooting stopped, the SWAT team went in and had the mall under lockdown. Two individuals with minor injuries were transferred to the Howard County General Hospital. Authorities have confirmed that three people were left dead in the aftermath of the mall shooting in Columbia, Maryland.
Maryland has been in the news since the start of 2014, with several cases of gun related violence. Timothy Davidson was shot earlier this month as he was driving from Florida to Maine. Davidson put in a 911 call to report that a man was shooting at him. In a tragic turn however, his assailant forced him off the road and shot him to death. The authorities have not found any link connecting the two men and have attributed the shooting to road rage. Police have responded to at least six more shootouts in the first week of January alone. None of these instances were linked to gangs or drugs and were all classified as random shootings. Last year got off to a better start with no gun related deaths in the first 10 days of the year. However, Baltimore ended 2013 with killings increased by eight percent and non-fatal shootings up by nine percent.
The Maryland mall that was the scene of a horrific shooting this morning, leaving three people dead, sits at the center of the town and the exact number of people who were in the mall, is still unknown. Prompt action by the authorities and the police to the distress call has enabled a low casualty count, but this incident again brings to the fore the ongoing debate about gun control in the United States. While arguments swing back and forth, the streets are producing an ever growing number of blood splattered people numbed by fear, shock and tears.
by Grace Stephen