BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As officers moved in to Valley Plaza Mall tonight to secure the area, shoppers and employees ran or hid.
Many of the people 23ABC spoke with Monday night say they were shopping or working when, out of nowhere, they heard the shooting. The gunfire causing mass panic at the mall.
Police say it all began at the near the Chipotle restaurant located in the mall's food court in its East wing. One food court employee detailed the moment everyone realized they could be in danger.
"We heard someone open fire like five rounds and we were just wondering where it came out but, but we saw people running toward the exit so I just got all my crew and my staff members all over the store and we went outside and we don't even know what happened," he said.
Meanwhile, the panic spread throughout the mall. One Abercrombie and Fitch employee telling us about a stampede of people running for their lives past his store.
"It's a mass flood of people running like someone's giving away a million dollars, people are just running, trying to get out. We tried to talk to eachother and try to get everyone in the back and make sure that no one's outside," he said.
But back on the other side of the mall, customers at Target were put on lockdown as police worked to get the scene under control. Some customers said they felt a little more at ease, despite not knowing what was going on.
"We weren't told anything, we had to look it up on our phones. You guys weren't told a shooting happened inside the mall? No. Was it scary? No. We were just waiting to hear what was going on. We heard it was under control and we saw everything that was going on out here," said one customer as she left the store after police lifted the lockdown.
Despite police now saying the shooting was not random, many who were at the mall feared the worst, like one employee who works at a kiosk in front of the finish line.
"What's going through my mind is am I going to see anyone that I love again or like what would happen next? Am I gonna die? It's pretty crazy," he said.