Police are still investigating gunfire that resulted in a lockdown and evacuation Saturday of Crossgates Mall, but they believe it was an isolated incident and the mall reopened Sunday.
[No one injured by shooting at Crossgates Mall]
Law enforcement agencies responded at 2:20 p.m. Saturday for a report of shots fired at the Guilderland mall. The incident is believed to be the result of an argument between two individuals that escalated into a single shot being fired, said Guilderland Police Chief Carol Lawlor.
“It wasn’t somebody who went to shoot up the mall, it was an isolated incident between two individuals,” she said.
No arrests have been made in connection to the incident, but Lawlor said police have several solid leads. She declined to comment Sunday whether the confrontation might have been gang-related.
The mall reopened Sunday at 11 a.m. and operated normally, though there were some additional police on site, Lawlor said.
“Families are there, people are there,” she said. “I don’t think they’re going to let this stop them from having a nice time at the facility.”
Indeed, it was business as usual for the most part on Sunday at Crossgates. Patrons filtered through stores and common areas, and those who spoke to The Gazette said the previous day’s chaos was scary, but they didn’t feel unsafe.
“I think it’s pretty safe,” said Ruth Morgan, who is from Utica. “It’s just so unbelievable. You never expect it.”
Several security guards could be seen Sunday afternoon roaming the mall and monitoring activity. Those who left items behind during Saturday’s evacuation were able to pick them up Sunday.
Witnesses said the incident happened right near the Apple Store, which was packed Sunday with customers.
The two H&M stores in the mall were closed Sunday, with signs on their gates saying the closure was due to “unforeseen circumstances.” It’s unclear if it was related to the prior day’s events.
Cameron Goodspeed, a 15-year-old who lives in Niskayuna, said his mom used to work at Lord & Taylor, which is right near where witnesses said the incident took place. His mom’s friends were texting her that they could see the people involved, and heard gunshots, Goodspeed said.
More than a dozen law enforcement agencies responded to the scene Saturday afternoon. Officers could be seen stationed throughout the day at mall entrances, holding assault rifles and escorting patrons and workers out of the facility. Roads into the mall was blocked off through Saturday evening.
Several witnesses described hearing multiple gunshots, but Lawlor said police believe there was only one shot fired.
Immediately after the incident, the mall was placed on lockdown, meaning patrons and employees were forced to remain in stores until law enforcement personnel could evacuate them.
That process took several hours. Lawlor said the mall was completely cleared by 10 p.m. Saturday.
“The mall is huge,” she said. “Being that size, there are a lot of places that have to be checked. That’s why the process took so long.”
At a news conference Sunday, mall officials said this was the first time gunfire had been reported inside the mall, to their knowledge. Michael Shanley, a partner with Pyramid Companies, which owns Crossgates, said additional safety measures at the mall will be considered after Saturday’s incident is addressed.
“At this point, we’re going to keep our focus on this particular situation,” he said. “We’ll be re-evaluating everything that happened and analyzing the entire situation, but that’s going to happen a few days from now.”
Guilderland police officials encouraged anyone who took any photos or video footage at the mall Saturday to forward it to police.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.