“Discover the latest on the Barton Creek Mall shooting in Austin, Texas. Stay up-to-date with our real-time coverage of the incident that unfolded today, December 16, 2023. Explore in-depth details and insights on this developing story right here.”
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Shots Fired at Austin’s Barton Creek Square Mall, Suspect at Large
Chaos erupted at one of Austin’s most popular shopping centers on Saturday afternoon when multiple gunshots rang out. The terrifying incident at Barton Creek Square mall left shoppers running scared and one person hospitalized.
According to the Austin Police Department (APD), officers responded to reports of shots fired near the AMC theater and The Cheesecake Factory at 4:43 pm. Though the suspect remains at large, police said this was an isolated event and no active threat exists currently.
Mall Visitor Shot Amidst Afternoon Altercation
Initial reports from APD indicate some sort of altercation occurred just outside Barton Creek Square on Saturday afternoon. Witnesses claim a physical fight broke out among a group of males in the courtyard area near the AMC theater.
During the scuffle, accounts allege one man pulled out a firearm from a bag and shot across the courtyard. A single bullet struck one victim in the arm, leaving him with non-life-threatening injuries. Police transported the victim to an area hospital for treatment.
“I saw three men jump another man and beat him up,” said eyewitness Eli Tayl. “Then, a guy went in his bag—from about 20 or 30 yards across the courtyard—and fired two shots, and then they all took off running. But the one guy got hit in his arm.”
Lockdown and Mass Evacuation Follow Sounds of Gunfire
The shocking sounds of gunfire ringing through the mall around 4:45 pm sparked panic among weekend shoppers. Witnesses described suddenly hearing screaming and the loud stomping footsteps of people desperately fleeing the area.
Barton Creek Square quickly initiated lockdown procedures to secure all visitors inside. But less than 90 minutes later, police gave the all-clear for people to begin calmly evacuating again. Mall officials said they plan to operate on a normal schedule moving forward.
Extent of Injuries Limited to Shooting Victim
Following mass panic and evacuation, APD reports injuries were limited to the single shooting victim. Two other individuals sustained minor scratches and abrasions while fleeing but did not require hospital trips.
By 6:50 pm, APD provided assurance that the active situation had ended. They secured the mall to safely allow visitors to exit again, except for the corridor near the crime scene. Authorities continue actively investigating this shooting but emphasize no further threats exist at the mall currently.
Barton Creek Square Considered Austin’s Premiere Shopping Hub
As police work to uncover circumstances and suspects involved in this brazen daytime shooting, many Austin residents are left stunned. Barton Creek Square mall symbolizes one of the city’s cornerstone landmarks and busiest retail centers.
Sprawling Mall Situated in Coveted Commercial Corridor
This expansive indoor shopping complex spans close to one million square feet just southwest of downtown Austin. The mall offers over 160 total stores and eateries, including anchor tenants Macy’s, Nordstrom, JCPenney, Dillard’s, and Neiman Marcus.
The location seized a coveted spot along Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360). It intersects with bustling MoPac Expressway (Loop 1), granting easy access to much of Austin.
This premier access and sheer size make Barton Creek Square a prime shopping hub for locals and tourists alike. Estimates suggest nearly 18 million people flock there annually to peruse high-end outlets and dine at restaurants overlooking scenic Hill Country vistas.
Symbol of Economic Growth in Rapidly Developing Area
Barton Creek Square further cemented itself as an Austin icon after opening in 1987. The $105 million build cost represented the city’s largest construction project up to that point. It kickstarted substantial population and commercial growth in surrounding areas over the next 25+ years.
This mall remains the cream of the crop among Austin shopping centers regarding size, sales figures, and brand prestige. So Saturday’s violence seems particularly impactful and surreal due to the mall’s stature. The incident leaves citizens feeling insecure about safety even in perceived family-friendly environments.
Seeking Normalcy Again After Alarming Events
In the wake of this brazen daytime shooting, Austin police must establish facts around what led up to the attack. Their investigation focuses on identifying the perpetrators and holding them accountable.
Mall officials also want to reassure the public of their safety seriously by enhancing security measures. They likely aim to restore Barton Creek Square’s standing as a premier and secure Austin shopping mecca after this violation.
But the local community may still feel shaken from this act of violence shattering perceptions of safety at a beloved area institution. It may take time to regain peace of mind while visiting Barton Creek Square during the vital holiday shopping season and beyond.