A shooting near the food court Friday night left one person injured and locked down the Tacoma Mall, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department and Tacoma police.
An off-duty Tacoma police sergeant called 911 just after 7 p.m. to report a live shooter inside the mall. Witnesses reported hearing 2 to 14 gunshots. At least one person has been confirmed shot and injured and was taken to an area hospital, sheriff's Sgt. Darren Moss said.
No one is in custody.
The shooting apparently began with a dispute between two groups of people, according to Tacoma police spokesman officer Gary Wurges.
More than 60 law enforcement officers from Tacoma, Pierce County, Lakewood, Puyallup and the Washington State Patrol converged on the scene.
"With an active shooter in a huge place, we're sending people inside to do a coordinated search," Moss said.
Hundreds of shoppers sheltered in place or hid inside stores, which immediately went on lockdown.
"We did a secondary search to make sure that we went through every single store," Wurges said just after 9 p.m. "We wanted to make sure that everybody was safe. And everybody that was there had a reason to be there."
Wurges said the scene was chaotic in the moments after the shooting with shoppers running and dropping belongings.
All unaccompanied juveniles were brought to the Tacoma Mall Transit Center in the 2100 block of South 48th Street where guardians could pick them up.
Police asked people to stay away from the mall, which is now closed.
"We are still actively working the scene, trying to get people out of the mall safely and searching the mall for a shooter," Moss said.
A 28-year-old woman shopping with a friend in Bath and Body Works said she heard up to 15 gunshots Friday evening.
Store employees closed the entrance to the mall and herded staff and customers into a back storage room.
"We were in there for 20 to 30 minutes," she said.
Eventually, they left via an entrance into the parking lot where they saw dozens of police vehicles, ambulances and fire department equipment. Police were carrying long guns, she said.
Fredrick Hoskins was shopping with his daughter inside the mall when he heard gunfire.
"There was a boom, boom, boom ... boom, boom, boom. Maybe like six shots," said Hoskins, who previously served in the military. "It sounded like a revolver, and it sounded like it was just one shooter."
Hoskins said he and his family went into a nearby store and sheltered in a storage room with several other people.
At one point, Hoskins said, word was passed that a woman and her baby were hiding in a dressing room in the store, so he and some other people went and got her and brought her to the storage area.
Police released them about an hour later, he said.