Gastonia police share events leading up to Eastridge Mall shooting

GASTONIA, N.C. — Police in Gastonia are sharing new information about the shooting on Friday at Eastridge Mall.

On Monday, police said an 18-year-old was leaving mall when he passed a 17-year-old near the food court.

Officers said there was an argument and then both of the teenagers pulled guns.

Investigators said the 18-year-old won’t be charged because they pulled a gun in self-defense. However, the 17-year-old was charged and had a first appearance in court Monday.

Channel 9 previously reported that initially, two persons of interest were questioned, but Channel 9′s Ken Lemon learned later Friday that the 17-year-old was charged with several counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

His identity will not be released due to his age.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed officers were investigating the 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 three people were shot and were taken to the hospital, including the 18-year-old. GPD said all three were expected to recover.

A viewer captured video of police arresting the 17-year-old, minutes after the shooting.

The teen appeared in juvenile court Monday. The minute he walked in, he locked eyes with his mother.

Prosecutors say though he’s under the age of 18, he will likely be indicted and charged as an adult. They also said he could face more charges including a charge of going armed to terrorize the public.

‘It’s sad’: Mall shooting is part of a larger problem, activist says

Several people told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon it’s frustrating to hear about more teens with guns. One man who knows the problem firsthand said no one really wins that fight.

Terence Floyd has hosted summits for teens at Vibes, his barbershop in Gastonia.

“It’s sad. I’m just at a loss sometimes,” Floyd said.

He is often solicited by parents to talk to teens in the safe space because he understands them. Floyd went to prison at 19 years old and served time for drugs and a shooting. He tries to share what he had to learn the hard way.

“The streets don’t have your best interest,” Floyd said.

He is troubled by the fact that on the same day the suspected mall shooter faced a judge, another 17-year-old charged with the murder of 20-year-old Deandre McCoy followed him. McCoy was killed in a car at a gas station on Highway 321 on Thursday.

Both shootings happened within 24 hours of each other, and police are checking to see if both are connected to gang activity.

“They think it’s a game,” Floyd said. “It breaks my heart. It’s really sad for them to not have experienced life, to throw the rest of their life away by making split-second decisions.”

He said he will keep talking and searching for ways to get through to troubled youth like the suspect in the mall shooting.

(WATCH PREVIOUS BELOW: ‘I was just scared’: Hundreds of shoppers at Eastridge Mall shaken after shooting)