GASTONIA, N.C. — Hundreds of people were at Eastridge Mall Friday afternoon when police said three people were hurt in a shooting outside the mall.
Shoppers ran for cover when shots were fired, with the recent mass shootings across the nation in the back of their minds.
“I was just scared inside, knowing someone is out there. And you heard the yelling. It was just crazy,” said Aiden Jefferis, who was shopping at the mall when the shooting happened. “We heard there was an active shooter inside, so we stayed down. We heard a shot. People got shot.”
Jefferis said he saw people running and tried to stay calm and get out with hundreds of others who were also worried about a mass shooting.
Janice Davidowitz was eating lunch in the food court when she said she heard the shots.
“I’m sitting down and I heard, like, a banging. Then I heard a pop, pop. And then the lady said to me, ‘C’mon, come with us, come with us,’” she said.
Davidowitz ran with a group to Claire’s, where a heroic worker made sure they were safe.
“She took us in, took the metal down, closed up the store, and we were all stuck in the bathroom for all this time,” she said.
As they were waiting in the store until it was safe, she said her sister, Deborah Haupt, was near the mall and saw police. Haupt said she was worried something was wrong.
“I saw the cops just flying by, flying by,” Haupt said. “I said, ‘That can’t be after a speeder. That has to be something at the mall.’”
Outside the mall, Channel 9 saw witnesses gathered to talk with police, still visibly shaken by everything that unfolded.
“I was nervous. Didn’t know what was going on, didn’t know if it was a false alarm or if it was real,” shopper Smiley Paulino said.
Channel 9′s Ken Lemon learned later Friday that a 17-year-old has been charged for the shooting. The teen faces several counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
(WATCH BELOW: Gastonia police chief shares update on Eastridge Mall shooting)
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