A suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting incident at a mall in South Carolina on Saturday that left 14 people injured.
The shooting took place on Saturday afternoon at the Columbiana Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Of the 14 injured, nine were shot, while five were hurt in the panic and chaos as shoppers tried to flee the scene.
Columbia Police chief William Holbrook said the authorities currently believe the shooting was “not a random act of violence” but rather triggered by “some kind of conflict” among a group of armed individuals who knew each other.
The suspect, identified as 22-year-old Jewayne M Price, is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center, and will be charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol, with more potentially forthcoming charges.
It is unclear if Mr Price has a lawyer able to speak on his behalf, and The Independent have contacted jail officials.
Police say they’re still looking for two other people who were seen with guns at the time of the shooting.
“After speaking with witnesses and reviewing surveillance video, CPD investigators believe that at least three suspects displayed firearms inside the mall,” the Columbia Police Department said in a statement on Saturday. “CPD is working to determine how many suspects discharged firearms, thus injuring multiple people.”
The Columbiana Center issued a statement saying that the “isolated, senseless act of violence is extremely upsetting and our thoughts are impacted with everyone. We are grateful for the quick response and continued support of our security team and our partners in law enforcement.”
Local media reported that there remained a heavy presence of police and emergency personnel at the mall into Saturday evening. The shopping center is located about 10 miles north of downtown Columbia.
Mr Price was one of three people initially detained by police after the shooting. The other two have been released.
The gunshot victims ranged in age from 73 to 15, the police said, but there were no fatalities. The 73-year-old victim is the only person who continues to receive medical treatment, according to police. All the other victims have been treated and released or will be released shortly, a news release said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene inside the shopping center.
“Everybody was trying to get outside,” Daniel Johnson, a shopper visiting from Alabama at the time of the shooting, told the Associated Press. “When I was coming out, you could see baby strollers turned over, people’s phones and left keys. It was kind of a hectic situation.”
Police said that the investigators have seized “one firearm related to the incident”, and that “preliminary examination of ballistic evidence collected from the scene indicates that at least two different firearms were used by two suspects”.
Local leaders condemned the violence.
“These tragedies get closer and closer to home,” Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee and former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter on Saturday night. “I’m sure some Columbia families were just out shopping for Easter weekend & now their lives have been forever changed. The nation must find the courage, strength, & leadership to stop #GunViolence.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.