FRANKLIN TWP., Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio BCI and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office are investigating after a deadly shooting outside of the Westland Mall Sunday afternoon.
Police and deputies responded to reports of shots fired before 4 p.m. and found one male victim dead from apparent gunshot wounds in the parking lot outside of the former Sears department store. Investigators shut entrances to the parking lot and taped off a large area for hours following the incident.
The Westland Mall has been vacant for years, but still hosts events periodically. The Sunday shooting happened as a gun show was winding down inside.
“I was inside talking to a buddy of mine who’s a gun dealer when somebody came in the front door, yelled, ‘Shots fired!’” recounted Jason Thiede, who was attending the gun show. “Everybody started to scatter away from the front door and heard a lot of gunfire outside.”
Thiede said the gunshots caused a brief panic until everyone realized it was coming from outside of the building.
“I looked to see where it’s coming from and whether there’s a chance I’m going to get hit. I was standing close enough to a column to know I wasn’t going to get hit by anything coming through the door, so I wasn’t worried,” he said.
Investigators immediately said it was not an active shooter situation. By late Sunday evening, no one had been taken into custody and no suspect information had been released. They also could not say whether the victim or potential suspects had any connection to the gun show.
Thiede said the violence would be uncharacteristic of a gun show.
“[There’s] all kinds of security, there’s undercover cops, there’s ATF agents here that everybody knows is here. So somebody trying to do that at a gun show just makes no sense,” he said.
Investigators have not released details about the victim’s identity, pending family notification. If you have any information, contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.