Loud noises that caused shoppers to race to the exits at NorthPark Center in Dallas Monday afternoon were caused not by gunshots, but by a man banging his skateboard on the floor in the food court, the Dallas police chief says.
Officers responded to the Dallas mall at 1:27 p.m. after reports of gunshots, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said.
He said that within three minutes, off-duty officers at the mall had confronted the man. On-duty officers responded a minute later.
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"When officers were arriving, obviously there was chaos throughout the building," Garcia said.
Garcia said when the man saw shoppers start to panic, he started to make hand gestures like he had a weapon.
Police said that the man was taken into custody and transported to an area hospital for a medical evaluation. Garcia said the man did not have a gun.
Video taken inside the mall showed shoppers rushing for exits while an alarm blared.
Garcia said the incident could have resulted in people being trampled, but he didn't blame those who reported what they heard as a shooting because "there's a lot of trauma" in the country.
"That sound obviously caused a panic," Garcia said. "When the crowd started running the individual focused on that and then began doing hand gestures as if he was shooting into the the crowd, which then further escalated the situation."
There were no reports of any injuries, police said.
Some employees at stores in NorthPark Center said they thought they heard 3-12 shots fired. They were allowed back inside the mall just before 3 p.m.
While there was no threat of an active shooter, the tense moments of uncertainty were scary and triggering for some. Claudia Tristan was inside the mall’s movie theatre at the time. She said being evacuated brought back memories of the aftermath of the 2019 mass shooting at Walmart in El Paso. Tristan says she’s relieved, but on edge.
"I attended private funerals and wakes in North Juarez and El Paso across the border and the U.S. So, for me I flashed through all of that immediately and thought to myself, if my nephews were going to have to attend something similar," she said. "I did not want to have to attend more funerals, or vigils or communitywide memorials or anniversaries of mass shootings. I did not want to have to do that again. So I’m so thankful this was nothing. But it still takes you back to that moment."