Two people were injured after reports of a possible shooting inside the American Eagle store in a Middleton, New York mall, New York State police confirmed to PIX11. However, other news reports said only that police were responding to a report of shots fired, and no arrests were made. Those injured did not have life-threatening wounds.
A weapon was accidentally discharged, police said in a later update. “A round hit the floor then ricocheted off of glass injuring people,” a statement from the Woodbury Police Department read.
Furthermore, it’s not yet clear whether the victims were injured because they were shot or whether they were wounded while trying to evacuate in the panic that ensued. Details are often conflicting in the immediate aftermath of shooting reports. The mall is located about 90 miles from New York City. “A handful or staties in full assault gear told us to get the f** out of the mall and we evacuated with everyone else,” wrote one witness on Twitter. “It was crazy and chaotic.” Some reports said people were shot.
The Town of Wallkill Police Department wrote on Facebook: “TWPD is investigating a possible shooting at the Galleria Mall. The Mall has been evacuated. Police are on scene and controlling the incident. The incident is under investigation. Further information will be released later.” Social media reports described a frightening scene. “Just got evacuated from the galleria mall for a possible shooting… was in the movies for a birthday party. Lots of cops with assault rifles,” wrote another man who was at the mall. A woman wrote, “got a call from the mall saying to lock my store and move to the back this is not a drill. If you didn’t know I stopped working here 3 weeks ago so I am safe. Stay safe everyone.”
Orange County emergency management wrote on Facebook: “There is an active an ongoing investigation with law enforcement currently underway at the Galleria in Middletown. At this time the public is requested to please avoid the area where possible. OCEM and partner agencies are on site and assisting at this time. It is important to note that OCEM does not comment on law enforcement actions or procedures. Until such time as we can provide VERIFIABLE information we would ask the public not speculate as rumors can and will cause additional resources to be used unnecessary. We will provide updates as information becomes available.”
News12 Hudson Valley reported that there was not an active shooter at large. “State police say they have evacuated a store at the Galleria at Crystal Run mall in Middletown amid reports of a possible shooting. Police say the American Eagle store was evacuated. Authorities say they don’t believe it’s an active-shooter situation,” the station reported. Spectrum News HV reported that state police said they were responding to reports of shots fired at the mall. The victims have not been identified.
However, WCVB-TV also reported: “A description of the suspect isn’t available, and witnesses report at least two victims with gunshot wounds.” That television station also said it’s not believed there is currently an active shooter. Officers were directing traffic away from the mall.
News of the possible shooting hit social media first on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in the midst of a busy Thanksgiving shopping weekend. The social media reports also focused on the American Eagle store inside the mall and said that people were being evacuated from the shopping center. Photos circulating on social media showed a massive law enforcement response to the mall. One woman wrote on Facebook: “We just got evacuated from the Galleria at Crystal Run (mall in Middletown). There is someone in the mall with a gun, shots were fired. Please be careful and avoid shopping today. I hope everyone is safe!!!”
People expressed concern on social media. “Stay away from the galleria in Middletown, the mall has been evacuated. Active police presence,” wrote one. “Active shooter at the Galleria in Middletown. Praying everyone is OK,” wrote another. However, sometimes inaccurate information spreads on social media in the immediate aftermath of shooting reports. For example, the same weekend, false reports of a shooting at a mall in Hialeah also provoked a panic. It turned out that something had fallen in the Florida mall, and people mistakenly thought it was gunshots.
Here are some of the Twitter reports on the shooting:
Although news reports quickly said there was no active shooter at large, social media reports contributed to panic. “There was just an active shooter at my local mall. Thankfully I was just pulling in when it happened and I didn’t get into the mall. There was miles of police cars and and ambulances and fire trucks. @ABC7NY it was crystal run Galleria,” wrote one person on Twitter.
People expressed concern about loved ones as the news spread. “Found out that there was a shooting in the galleria mall and first person I called was my mom to make sure everyone was safe,” one woman wrote on Twitter.
This article will be updated as more is learned.