17-year-old charged with shooting outside Eastridge Mall that injured 3, Channel 9 – WSOC TV heard

2 interesting people are interviewed after 4 shots in Eastridge Mall, chief says:

GASTONIA, NC — A 17-year-old has been charged in a shooting outside Eastridge Mall in Gastonia that left three people injured Friday afternoon, police said.

The Gastonia police chief initially said two men and a woman were shot dead. Authorities later said another man who was shot turned up at a hospital in Charlotte, but police determined the man had been injured in a separate shooting.

Two individuals of interest were initially questioned, but Channel 9’s Ken Lemon was later informed Friday that a 17-year-old has been charged with several assaults with a deadly weapon. His identity has not been released due to his age.

According to the police, there is no active threat in the shopping center.

A spokesman for the department confirmed that officers were investigating a shooting at the North New Hope Road shopping center in Gastonia after noon on Friday.

Gaston Emergency Medical Services told Channel 9 the three people who were shot have been taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. GPD said all three are expected to recover.

In a new release Friday night, investigators said the shooting happened outside the mall, in the parking lot, and the victims ran inside to court after being shot.

Shopper Gerardo Ugalde told Channel 9’s Ken Lemon that he was a few feet away when the shooting started.

“Three or four shots, bam, bam, bam,” he said. “Crazy, because that’s not fair.”

According to police, at least one suspect has reportedly been seen running from the mall toward a neighboring forest edge. Officers then went into the wooded area and said they found the 17-year-old with a gun nearby. The teenager was subsequently arrested.

Early Friday afternoon, Chief Travis Brittain said they were interviewing witnesses. He also said it is too early at this point to establish a motive for the shooting, but they have not ruled out anything.

“See (that) those people who are held accountable for this are held 100% accountable,” Brittain said.

Police said investigators went store to store to help people inside exit the mall. They sent relatives of shoppers and employees who came to the mall in search of their loved ones to the Luck Samurai parking lot at 116 North New Hope Road.

Witnesses described the scene as chaos, with some people inside stopping to help the injured.

“I heard 3 shots and everyone started running and exploding and everything,” witness Larry Brice said.

Gastonia police said the mall has been closed and further updates on it Twitter page

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles License Plate Agency at Eastridge Mall is temporarily closed, according to a tweet from the agency

FedEx released the following statement to Channel 9 in response:

“Our thoughts are with the victims of this tragic shooting. We are grateful that our team member was not injured in this incident, and we are working with authorities to investigate.”

This is a story in development. To check wsoctv.com for updates.

(LOOK BELOW: Weapon-detecting K-9 begins patrolling Carolina Place Mall)