BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) — Shoppers huddled into storage closets and dressing rooms on Friday afternoon during a shooting incident outside the Westfield Brandon Mall that sent the facility into lockdown.
“I’m just sitting there. I’m shaking. It’s kind of cold in there. I’m just overloaded – like what’s going on,” said Eden Temesgen, who was in the mall for a shopping spree.
Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were called to respond to a situation at the Brandon mall Friday evening. They were quick to dispel social media rumors that claimed it was an active shooting.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet there was no active shooter. There were, however, shots fired outside.
“I see people like running throughout the main hallway, running and screaming,” Temesgen added. “I’m like, ‘oh my God, this feels surreal. Like, what’s happening right now?'”
According to a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, an argument between two men broke out around 4 p.m. near the Club Vape kiosk in the mall. The men then went outside and continued to argue. Once they were both outside, deputies said one of the men shot the other.
The person who fired shots left the scene and has not been caught, according to the sheriff’s office spokesperson.
“It’s a great mall. Great people here, too. Stuff like this happens everywhere, we see it every day. It’s a sad truth, but happens all the time,” said Patrick Froning, who works inside the mall.
Friday’s incident in Brandon comes on the heels of two other mall shootings in two different states. A shooting at a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. left three people injured. Three other people were hurt in a shooting at the Eastridge Mall in Gastonia, North Carolina.
“The police were going around saying ‘hey, you can come out now’ [but] I didn’t feel safe,” Temesgen said. “I wanted to stay in there for another hour.”
The victim shot on Friday was taken to Tampa General Hospital and is expected to be OK.