BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — UPDATE: (8:40 a.m.): The search continues for any suspects connected to a shooting at the Valley Plaza Mall Monday night where hundreds were sent scrambling as shots rang out. Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin said additional units will be patrolling the area Tuesday.
The victims from Monday night's shooting are expected to recover from minor gunshot injuries but hundreds of shoppers here feared the worst.
Shots rang out at about 6 p.m. Monday night. Police say the shooting started as a physical altercation between two groups of young people in their late teens and early 20s. At some point, the argument escalated.
The suspect, described as a black man in a grey sweatshirt, pulled out a gun and started firing before taking off. Two men, 20 and 15 years old, suffered gunshot injuries.
Panic spread through the mall as shoppers feared the worst, running and seeking shelter anywhere they could.
"What's going through my mind is am I going to see anyone that I love again," said one witness. "What would happen next. Am I going to die?"
Martin hoped to put the community at ease assuring residents that the shooting was not a random act. He said it's safe to return to the mall on Tuesday and it will be business as usual.
UPDATE (6:04 a.m.): The Valley Plaza Mall released a statement on Facebook in regards to the shooting that happened Monday night:
It is especially disheartening that this horrible event took place in our shopping center as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are still learning the facts, and are working closely with our partners at the Bakersfield Police Department. This was a frightening experience for our guests and tenants and we commend BPD for their quick responses during this incident.
This is a developing investigation and we are directing all inquiries to the Bakersfield Police Department
UPDATE (8:41 p.m.): The Bakersfield Police Department released the following statement concerning the shooting at the Valley Plaza Mall that happened Monday night:
On Monday, 11-25-19 at 6:03 p.m. officers of the Bakersfield Police Department responded to the Valley Plaza for a report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers located two victims (ages 20 and 15) both suffering from non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Both victims were transported to a local area hospital where they were treated for their injuries. The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect a:
Black male, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt
Was involved in a physical altercation with the victim to the front of the food court when the suspect removed a firearm and fired multiple times striking the victim. A methodical search of the Valley Plaza was conducted and it was confirmed the suspect fled the area after the offense. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Detective J. Diederich at (661) 326-3558 or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-711
UPDATE (7:59 p.m.): Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin has confirmed that the Valley Plaza Mall is secured following a shooting that happened Monday evening around 6:03 p.m.
According to officials, there were two juvenile victims with moderate injuries. that were taken to Kern Medical Center.
One male suspect was detained at Carls Jr. outside the mall.
Officials said the shooting happened inside the mall, west of the Chipotle at the food court when two groups got into a physical altercation. BPD said one suspect pulled out a gun and started to shoot.
The Bakersfield Police Department is on the scene of a shooting at the Valley Plaza Mall.
Bakersfield Police confirmed that there are two victims of the shooting. Officials said the victims survived the initial shooting but their conditions are unknown.
We're getting reports that store employees are still on lock down at their respective stores, until police escort them out.
A customer tells 23ABC News that they were eating inside the Red Robin when gun shots were heard. Customers reportedly went to a back room inside the restaurant.
Witnesses at Macy's said they also heard gunshots and were told to go to a closet and hide.
BPD has not confirmed any more details.
We will update you as more information comes in.