PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A manhunt is underway after a 19-year-old was shot Monday inside the Providence Place mall parking garage.
The shooting took place around 4:40 p.m. in the second floor of the garage outside a door to Nordstrom and it “was not random,” according to Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.
Clements said the victim suffered non-life-threatening wounds to his leg and was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where he’s listed in stable condition.
Upon receiving reports of the shooting, authorities immediately began to evacuate the building. There was a heavy police presence at the mall and outside on Francis Street as officers responded to the incident. Police were seen checking cars exiting the garage.
Once the building was secured, people were allowed back in to get their vehicles and other personal belongings, Clements said.
Lindsay Kahn, a spokesperson for the mall’s parent company, said the mall will be closed for the rest of the night.
Providence Place is cooperating fully with the Providence Police Department on their investigation. We ask that you refer all questions to the Providence Police Department. The shopping center is closed for the remainder of the evening.
No arrests have been made, according to Paré, but police had taken one person into custody for questioning around 6 p.m.
Paré said police are looking for multiple suspects. One officer said descriptions of at least two suspects had been shared with police.
Investigators are now reviewing surveillance footage from the mall. Clements said a fight broke out between two groups of people inside one of the stores and continued into the garage. The victim went back into the mall after the shooting, according to Clements, but the assailants immediately fled.
Clements said they “certainly would not rule out gang activity.”
On social media, people who said they were at the mall described high anxiety among shoppers as word of the shooting spread and the evacuation began. Marlene Gonzalez, a mall worker, said she and other employees were instructed to hide in a stock room, and they spent about 20 minutes there before the evacuation.
“When you have a situation like this in a large venue, with a large amount of people, absolutely there’s going to be chaos when this initially happens,” Clements said.
“Mall security and mall personnel were extremely helpful in assisting Providence police with the evacuation,” Deputy Chief Thomas Verdi added. “The mall alarm was sounded and that alarm, what it states is, ‘evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.’ So if you were listening to what the alarm was telling the shoppers, it was to evacuate. But of course, it was very chaotic in those first several minutes.”
The shooting had an immediate ripple effect.
Nearby Veterans Memorial Auditorium was placed on lockdown, and it was unclear whether an event scheduled for 7 p.m. would take place. An employee said the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel was also on lockdown. A fan at the Providence College basketball game said attendees were told they could stay at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center if their cars were in the mall garage.
The shooting comes less than a week after another incident at Providence Place. Last Wednesday, the mall’s third floor was evacuated due to an electrical fire.