Police say NY mall evacuated after gun discharges into floor

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y.  — A crowded mall in New York’s Hudson Valley was evacuated Sunday after a gun discharged into the floor, causing minor injuries to two bystanders, police said.

The gun went off shortly after 3 p.m. at the Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown, about 70 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

“At this time it appears that a male wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and gray pants discharged one round from a handgun into the floor on the second level of the mall in front of the American Eagle store,” Chief Robert Hertman of the Wallkill Police Department said at a briefing outside the mall.

Hertman said police were still seeking the man whose gun went off. He said police do not know if the discharge was accidental.

Hertman said the two people were being treated for minor lacerations. He said it is unclear how they were injured.

Video posted on social media showed armed police in tactical gear running down a corridor of the mall while shoppers ran in the other direction.

Leighton Peterson was grabbing a pre-movie bite to eat in the mall’s food court around 3:20 when suddenly, he heard alarms, “and all of the employees were telling everybody to get to the exits and evacuate,” he told The Associated Press.

As people made orderly progress toward the exits, Peterson thought it might be a fire drill until he heard a worried-looking mall worker mention a shooting, he recalled.

Outside, holiday shoppers lingered at first to see whether there might be an all-clear and reopening. But before long, “it became pretty clear that there was an actual situation happening, so then people started leaving en masse,” in a bumper-to-bumper stream out of the packed parking lot, said Peterson, 32, a video editor.

The Galleria mall also was evacuated during the holiday shopping rush in December 2008, when an odor of gas at a department store forced the shopping center to close early on a Thursday evening.