Sunday 'Incident' Sends Fears Through Town Center Mall In Boca Raton
Updated at 8:00 p.m. of Oct. 13, 2019.
Boca Raton Police said the person injured in an incident at the Town Center Mall around 3 p.m. Sunday appears to have been injured while fleeing. Police said the man hit his head, apparently on the push bar of a door. They found blood and hair on the door where he appeared to have been hurt.
He was transported to Delray Medical Center, and his injuries are not life-threatening.
Thousands were stuck inside the mall after much of it was locked down following reports of shots fired. Police said most had been cleared out by around 7:30 p.m., but SWAT teams were continuing to sweep the mall and some areas with people still had not been cleared.
Those who had already made it out, in some cases, remained stranded – their cars were stuck in parking lots and garages blocked off by authorities.
A review of surveillance footage showed people turning to look at something, and then fleeing, in the area of the food court. Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander said they don't have evidence of gunshots, but that they do believe there was some sort of loud bang in the food court area that triggered a panic.
"There's something that happened inside that mall today that caused people to get concerned – a lot of people, at one time," said Alexander.
Update: The victim transported to Delray Medical Center sustained a trauma injury from a door while evacuating. The victim did not sustain a gunshot wound. At this point, we are investigating a suspicious incident as the source of loud bangs remains unknown. @BocaPolice— Boca Raton Police (@BocaPolice) October 14, 2019
At an afternoon news conference, Alexander walked back initial reports of a shooting at the mall.
He said there were additional minor injuries as a result of people running to try to exit the mall, but was unable to say how many or give information about the nature of their injuries.
Alexander said there were no reports of additional gunshots after the first reports that police responded to. He said Boca Raton police were already on the scene when the victim was injured, and were able to get to him immediately.
Boca Raton Police first tweeted just after 3:30 p.m. that it was responding to an "active incident" and warned shoppers to shelter in place. By 4:15 p.m. the department tweeted there was no active shooter at the mall.
Police vehicles from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Margate, Florida Atlantic University and the Broward and Palm Beach County sheriff's offices were on the scene. The Miami branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tweeted that it was en route to the mall, as well.
Boca police SWAT officers were searching the mall, and advised shoppers to remain in place until evacuated by police.
"We're going to ask for a lot of patience, because this is a significant scene we have here," Alexander said.
The Town Center Mall has about 200 stores and restaurants.
In its Twitter feed, Boca Raton police descibe its evacuation procedures as "methodical to ensure everyone's safety." They expected to finish clearing the mall Sunday night, though they couldn't give a more precise estimate.
No one is in custody. People who might have information are asked to call (561)-416-3359.
Alexander warned people to be skeptical of information about the incident not provided by the police department.
"Anything you see on social media, take it with a grain of salt," he said.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for the latest details