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Unfounded reports of shooting causes panic at South Bay mall

Man hit in face with gun while smoking pot at National City park
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-19 02:12:14-05

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) — Unfounded reports of a shooting at a South Bay mall caused panic Saturday evening.

Witnesses explained hundreds dropped what they were doing and ran to shelter in place in stores and even to the nearest mall exit.

"I never thought that I’d be in this situation,” said Corina Gonzalez, shopper. "I grabbed my stroller and I ran to the back of Jamba Juice And we all hid in a room. It was really scary.”

According to National City Police, officers responded to Plaza Bonita Mall Saturday evening due to reports of a fight at Macy’s. Officers said they discovered it was a possible shoplifting incident.

Authorities said people in the food court started saying there was an active shooter, which sparked panic.

Police also said someone called police to report a shooting at the mall’s theater.

"As you can imagine with a report like that with someone making that accusation— someone activated the alarm inside the mall and I believe it was the fire alarm, which created chaos by everybody exiting the movie theater as you can expect,” said Battalion Chief Antonio Ybarra, National City Police Department.

According to National City Police, no gunshot victims were found. Three to four people received minor injuries trying to evacuate the mall.

“It looked like a wave of people just running out. It was just an instant reaction. It was just loud. You could hear them coming before you even saw them,“ said Jessica Bravo, mall employee.

National City Police credited the action mall staff like Bravo took when the commotion began.

“I was going to run but then there were people behind me there were children behind me. So, I was like just go ahead of me— go to the parking lot and I just stuck around making sure that everyone got to safety," recalled Bravo.

Police also helped several children wandering the mall searching for their parents.