17-year-old charged for shooting outside Eastridge Mall that left 3 hurt, police say

GASTONIA, N.C. — A 17-year-old has been charged in a shooting outside Eastridge Mall in Gastonia that left three people hurt Friday afternoon, according to police.

The chief of Gastonia police initially said two men and one woman were shot. Authorities later said another man who was shot showed up at a hospital in Charlotte, but police determined that man was hurt in a separate shooting.

Two persons of interest initially were questioned, but Channel 9′s Ken Lemon learned later Friday that a 17-year-old has been charged with several counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His identity will not be released due to his age.

Channel 9 has reached out to the Gastonia Police Department for information on when the suspect will be in court and the full charges against him. We have not heard back.

Police said there is no active threat at the mall.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed officers were investigating a shooting at the mall on North New Hope Road in Gastonia after 12 p.m. on Friday.

Gaston Emergency Medical Services told Channel 9 that the three people shot were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. GPD said all three were expected to recover.

In a new release Friday evening, investigators said the shooting happened outside the mall, in the parking lot, and that the victims ran inside to the foot court after being shot.

Shopper Gerardo Ugalde told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon that he was a few feet away when the shooting started.

“Three or four shots, bam, bam, bam,” he said. “Mad, cause that’s not fair.”

According to police, at least one suspect was reportedly seen running from the mall in the direction of a neighboring woodline. Officers then went into the wooded area and said they found the 17-year-old with a gun nearby. The teen was then taken into custody.

Early Friday afternoon, Chief Travis Brittain said they were interviewing witnesses. He also said at this point, it is too early to determine a motive for the shooting, but they have not ruled anything out.

“See (that) those folks held responsible for this are held 100% held accountable,” Brittain said.

Police said investigators were going store to store helping people inside to exit the mall. They directed family members of shoppers and employees who were coming to the mall looking for their loved ones to go to the parking lot of Luck Samurai at 116 North New Hope Road.

Witnesses described the scene as chaos, with some people inside stopping to help those hurt.

“I heard 3 shots, and everybody started running and scattering and everything,” said witness Larry Brice.

Gastonia police said the mall is locked down and it would provide further updates on its Twitter page.

Gastonia police said it locked down the mall after the shooting. Eastridge Mall said it will reopen Saturday at 11 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles License Plate Agency at Eastridge Mall was also temporarily closed, according to a tweet from the agency. It will reopen at 9 a.m. Monday.

FedEx released the following statement to Channel 9 in response:

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic shooting. We are grateful our team member was not injured in this incident, and we are working with authorities as they investigate.”

This is a developing story. Check wsoctv.com for updates.

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