Ocala: 1 Dead, Multiple Injured in Shooting at Paddock Mall

Mass Shooting happened just two days before Christmas in Paddock Mall in Ocala, Florida, as shooting claimed the life of one man and left several others injured. The Ocala Police Department responded to reports of a shooter at around 3:40 p.m. on Saturday, firing among shoppers in one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

Ocala: 1 Dead, Multiple Injured in Shooting at Paddock Mall

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According to Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken, the victim, identified as 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron, was shot multiple times in a common area of the mall.

The assailant, described as a Black male wearing a black hoodie, black pants, and a partially masked face, fled the scene. A woman also was gunshot wound to her leg, but her injuries are expected to be non life threatening.

Contrary to initial reports of a shooter, the police later clarified that the incident was a targeted act of violence. The suspect managed to escape the mall, leaving behind the firearm used in the shooting.

Upon receiving 911 calls reporting multiple shots fired, officers arrived at the scene and entered the mall to address what was initially believed to be a shooter situation.

Investigations revealed the nature of the attack, leading to the conclusion that it was a targeted act against the male victim.

The shooting and the woman’s gunshot wound, several other suffered injuries during the chaos that ensued. Reports indicate one person with chest pain and another with a broken arm.

The mall, with holiday shoppers, was evacuated as law enforcement secured the area and initiated an investigation.

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The police have released images of a person of interest, believed to be connected to the shooting. The individual, seen wearing a red cap and dark clothing, was captured by mall security cameras.

Authorities have appealed to the public for assistance, urging anyone with mobile phone videos of the scene to come forward.

Witnesses Calvin and Diana Amos, who were inside the JCPenney store during the incident, described their evacuation as swift, expressing fear.

Other shoppers, including 18-year-old Syriah Williams, recounted the chaos that erupted after the gunshots, with employees guiding people to safety.

The Ocala Gazette owner, Jennifer Hunt Murty, volunteered at a gift wrapping station when the gunfire erupted nearby.

She immediately communicated with the police chief, helping coordinate the response to aid injured victims.

The mall’s corporate owner, WPG, issued a statement expressing sadness over the shooting. They addressed their commitment to the safety of guests, retailers, and employees, collaborating closely with the Ocala Police Department during the investigation.

The Ocala Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, are investigating the incident. The suspect, still at large, is considered armed and dangerous.

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The recovered firearm will undergo forensic examination to assist in the identification of the assailant. Police have urged the public to provide any information that may lead to the identification of the suspect.

A person of interest has been depicted in photos, and individuals who were present at the mall during the shooting are encouraged to submit videos or photos that may aid in the investigation.

With Chief Balken expressing the grief over the loss of life during this festive time. The mall, a hub for festive shopping, is expected to remain closed for at least 12 hours as investigations continue.

The Paddock Mall, owned by WPG, has not issued detailed statements about the incident. However, in a brief response, the corporate owner expressed sadness over the shooting and addressed their commitment to the safety of guests, retailers, and employees.

The mall, which houses numerous stores, including well-known brands like JCPenney and Foot Locker, remains closed as the investigation unfolds.

Ocala police have requested assistance from the public. They released photos of the person of interest and encouraged individuals with mobile phone videos of the shooting scene to come forward.

The Florida mall shooting adds to the growing list of gun-related incidents across the United States. With the year approaching its end, gun violence deaths in the country are nearing 42,000, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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