A manhunt was still underway on Saturday morning for a gunman who opened fire in a shopping mall, killing five people. A man walked into the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington, about 65 miles (105 km) north of Seattle and began shooting at about 7 p.m. local time on Friday, Washington State Patrol spokesman Mark Francis said on Twitter.
EMS starting to enter to attend to injured inside Mall w/ police escort and after initial clearance. pic.twitter.com/Nkfb7co6sa— Sgt. Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) September 24, 2016
Sadly the male and 5th victim who was taken to Harborview has passed away #CascadeMallShooting— Sgt. Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) September 24, 2016
Francis said police were searching the area for the shooter, who was described as a "Hispanic male wearing gray" and was last seen walking toward a nearby highway away from the mall. A still from CCTV footage showing the suspect was also released. Francis tweeted the shooter was "armed with rifle." He reportedly entered a Macy's department store around 7pm
Here is the shooter. We believe just one shooter. Notify authorities if you see him. Armed with rifle. pic.twitter.com/GXeWCPYnx5— Sgt. Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) September 24, 2016
Active shooter description: Hispanic male wearing grey. Last seen walking towards I5 from Cascade Mall burlington.— Sgt. Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) September 24, 2016
Skagit County police and fire scanner audio described the suspect as appearing between 20 to 25 years old, with a "skinny build," black messy hair and wearing a black shirt.
Four women were killed in the attack in the mall's Macy's store cosmetics department, Francis told the New York Times. A man who was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries died overnight, Francis said in a statement early on Saturday morning. A news conference is expected to be held later on Saturday morning.
"We're doing everything we can to find this person. Stay vigilant. If you see something, just like they say, say something," said Washington State Patrol spokesman Mark Francis as quoted by local Komo News TV. "Avoid the area. If you live close to the area, stay inside - lock your doors."
"Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight. Our hearts are in Burlington," Governor Jay Inslee said on Twitter.
Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight. Our hearts are in Burlington where a shooter has taken the lives of at least four people.— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) September 24, 2016
Francis said on Twitter that police and rescue workers carefully worked their way through the mall, clearing stores and evacuating shoppers, some of whom, according to local media, locked themselves in dressing rooms.
A witness who was trapped in a fitting room at the time of the shooting says she heard the gunman yell out a woman's name while going after escaping shoppers, according to Skagit Breaking News. This is yet to be confirmed by officials.
Local authorities searched throughout the night for the gunman, believed to be armed with a rifle, and warned residents to remain inside. By nightfall, evacuation orders were lifted and law enforcers said they were leaving. The operation however moved to the neighborhood, where the suspect was sighted.
The shooting comes less than a week after a man stabbed nine people at a mall in central Minnesota before being shot dead. ISIS promptly took responsibility for that attack which is being investigated by the FBI as a potential act of terrorism.
"At this time, the FBI has no information to suggest additional attacks planned in WA state," the Washington State Patrol said on Twitter.
“I think it’s too early to call it terrorism, but it’s also too early to take that off the table," director of the Center for the Study of Extremism, Bryan Levin, told RT. "Although, a couple of things: the fact that the casualty level is relatively low for someone who’s armed like that suggests to me that this could also be some personal issue, such as a targeted killing. But in the very early hours of these type of events, you want to make sure you have everything on the table, in case the facts change, and you need those resources."