ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police responded to The Mills at Jersey Gardens Monday evening after an altercation prompted a panic among shoppers around 5:00 pm.
As 1010 WINS’s Andrew Falzone reports, police initially received reports of gunshots inside the mall.READ MORE: NYPD Officer Jason Rivera 'Always Said He Wanted To Be A Police Officer;' Wake And Funeral Set For This Week
Police with long guns searched the food court after shoppers heard a sudden, sharp loud noise.
“It sounded like shots to me,” shopper Carol Kuhn told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. “I’ve heard gunfire before and that’s what it sounds like to me.”
Many of the shoppers on this busy day-after-Christmas decided to flee, filling back hallways and heading towards emergency exits. Along the way there was some pushing and shoving.
“I was helping a customer with a shoe, looked outside my door, and everybody started running,” store clerk Rachelle Pittman said.
Shopper Chrissy Bouchelle tells CBS2 that she heard people yelling “gunfire” before she decided to run.
The loud, sharp sounds turned out to just be tables and chairs hitting the ground during the initial altercation.READ MORE: Mayor Adams To Outline Plan To Combat Gun Violence
“The whole mall was running one way, it was like they were getting shot at,” Kuhn said. “Of course I was panicking.”
According to Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, a total of eight to ten people — including two boys and a pregnant woman — were injured in the ensuing chaos with non-life threatening injuries.
They were treated on scene before being transferred to local hospitals for further evaluations, according to the mayor.
“Yelling gunshots in a crowded mall when it didn’t happen clearly ensues a chaotic event which is what we have here,” Bollwage said.
Elizabeth and New Jersey State Police — in addition to Union County Sheriffs — all responded, shutting down roads leading to the mall and bringing traffic to a standstill for several hours.
Jersey Gardens — closed tonight — is scheduled to reopen Tuesday morning.MORE NEWS: Rookie NYPD Officer Sumit Sulan Hailed A Hero For Quick Actions In Deadly Harlem Shooting