COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus Police are searching for whoever it was who fired shots inside the Polaris Fashion Place, the second time in less than two weeks such an incident occurred.
“These are young people yet again in our city who are committing acts of violence that is putting the life of innocent people in danger and it’s beyond frustrating,” said Columbus Police Sgt. James Fuqua.
Many shoppers said they heard the gunfire, with some saying three shots, others saying four or five.
Some shoppers said it is thanks to employees at the mall that they felt safe despite the chaos happening around them.
Rebecca Sidell and Tulanna Cooper said they were terrified after hearing the gunfire Monday afternoon.
“It sounded so close and we just, our daughter, she just kind of froze,” Sidell said. “She was almost near the front door looking at stuff. They had to help her move.”
“They were so amazing,” Cooper added. “Their first thought was getting us out of there, nothing else.”
Cooper said employees at the store they were in told them they had practiced drills after the March 3 shooting inside the mall.
I wanted to get my daughter out of there, like, that was my first thought,” Cooper said. “Luckily, one of the employees grabbed her and brought her to me and we just took off.”
Columbus Police were called to the mall at approximately 3:17 p.m.
Fuqua said a fight between two groups on the first floor of the mall was the cause of the shots being fired.
There are no injuries.
“From the last incident we had, they addressed several concerns and they wanted to make sure they had a plan in place for if this incident ever happened again, and I’m confident, based on the information they received and how they treated it, this was done a little more swiftly and correctly,” Fuqua said of the response of shopping center’s security to Monday’s incident.
Polaris Fashion Place issued the below statement Monday night:
“At Polaris Fashion Place, the safety of our guests, retailers, and employees is our top priority. According to local law enforcement officials, there have been no reported injuries as a result of the isolated incident that occurred today. Our team immediately implemented safety protocols and we continue to cooperate with all police procedures. Over the past two weeks, we have had extra security at Polaris Fashion Place and will continue to increase security presence and work with local law enforcement. We would like to thank our law enforcement agency partners for their quick response ensuring everyone’s safety: Columbus Police Department, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, the Genoa Township Police Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Worthington Police Department. We continue to work with each of these agencies to cooperate with all of their procedures. Polaris Fashion Place will re-open for normal hours of operation on Tuesday, March 16. For more information, please contact the Columbus Police Department directly at (614) 645-4545.”Polaris Fashion Place statement
Hundreds of shoppers and employees were evacuated by officers within hours of the incident.
“We cleared out quite a few people,” Fuqua said. “Like I said, we learned from the last incident and the way we cleared people out this time was much more efficient.”
Fuqua is calling on the community to help solve both shooting cases.
“So I’m hoping that someone will see that these occurred again and will come forward, either from this incident or the incident from before,” he said.