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Gunman Kills Five People at Trolley Square

   |  Posted Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:00am


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KSL Team Coverage/AP

The winding hallways of Salt Lake City's Trolley Square became a shooting gallery for an 18-year-old gunman in a trench coat who fired a shotgun randomly at customers, killing five and wounding four before being killed by police, authorities and witnesses said.

The shooter also was armed with a handgun and had several rounds of ammunition, Salt Lake City police Detective Robin Snyder said early Tuesday. It was not clear if he fired the handgun, nor had a motive been determined, she said.

The man's name was not released. He was a Salt Lake City resident.

"I was working and all of a sudden I heard a shot, and I saw security run by. I didn't really know what was going on. People just started running," a witness named Maya said.

Marie Smith, 23, a Bath & Body Works manager, saw the gunman through the store window. She watched as he raised his gun and fired at a young woman approaching him from behind.

"His expression stayed totally calm. He didn't seem upset, or like he was on a rampage," said Smith, who crawled to safety in an employee restroom to hide with others. She said the gunman looked like "an average Joe."

Killed were two 28-year-old women, a 52-year-old man, a 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, Snyder said.

The surviving victims were transported to several area hospitals.

Surviving Victim Information

53-year-old male, critical condition
44-year-old female, critical condition
34-year-old male, serious condition
16-year-old boy, serious condition
Pregnant woman treated for psychological trauma

As of this morning, we know a 53-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman are in critical condition. Two other men are in serious condition. A woman who is 32 weeks pregnant was taken to Salt Lake Regional Hospital for severe psychological trauma.

The chaos at the mall erupted at 6:45 p.m. Witnesses told us they saw the gunman, heard the shots and screaming and saw the wounded.

Salt Lake police are encouraging anyone who was inside the mall at the time of the shooting, who may need counseling, to call Valley Mental Health at 261-1442.

"We have six fatalities (including the gunman) and multiple victims at hospitals," Snyder said. "They were found throughout the mall."

Barbara Lund was working in a store. "We heard the gunshots. They were pretty loud. Then one of my friends came out and told me there were gunshots there."

Matt Lund, Barbara's husband, said he saw a woman's body face-down at the entrance to Pottery Barn Kids. He locked himself and four others inside a storage room for about 40 minutes, isolated but still able to hear the violence.

The terror seemed to begin in the parking lot near the Williams Sonoma store. Two brothers leaving the mall saw a wounded youth taking shelter in a car.

"The young boy, he ran and jumped in a car. He'd been shot on this side, and his ear looked like meatloaf."

As the gunman entered the mall, he started blasting away with a shotgun. Fear and confusion spread. Police arrived within a few minutes. Hundreds of shoppers and workers took cover, hiding wherever they could. Some heard the final confrontation.

"We heard them say, 'Police! Drop your weapon!' Then we heard shotgun fire. Then there was a barrage of gunfire," Matt Lund, 44, said. "It was hard to believe."

Witnesses reported dozens of shots, perhaps 50 or more. And then silence. As some were cleared to leave by police, they saw the gunman's shotgun shells scattered around in front of shops.

"As we were running towards the north side of the building, we looked to our left, and there was glass shattered all over the floor next to the escalators. And maybe, it was so quick, but maybe 10 bodies lying on the ground," said witness Clifton Black.

Melinda Gurr added, "We were rushed out pretty quickly. We saw a bunch of bodies heaped on the floor, and there was glass everywhere. A pretty gory sight."

"It was really just scary. I wanted to get out of there," Black said.

Salt Lake City police Detective Robin Snyder said many employees and shoppers -- "a lot of scared people" -- still were inside at 9 p.m. MST, hunkered down and waiting for a police escort. "This is a huge area to cover," she said.

It's not known how many people were in the mall when the shots were fired, but Snyder said investigators had between 100 and 200 witnesses to interview.

By dawn Tuesday, two memorial sites with lighted candles and flowers were set up outside Trolley Square.

Some say officers treated everyone like suspects -- ordering those hiding in storerooms, bathrooms or under stairwells, to lie on the floor with their hands on their heads until police were sure no one posed a threat.

An antique-store owner, Barrett Dodds, 29, said he saw a man in a trench coat exchanging gunfire with a police officer outside a card store. The gunman was backed into a children's clothing store.

"I saw the cops go in the store. I saw the shooter go down," said Dodds, who watched from the second floor.

Four police officers -- one an off-duty officer from Ogden and three Salt Lake City officers -- were involved in the shootout with the gunman, Snyder said. She provided no other details.

She said she didn't believe there had been a shooting in Salt Lake City where so many people were killed.

"I don't know that we've ever had one that even compares to this," she said. "We had some incidents in the past here in Salt Lake City, but nothing of this nature."

Barb McKeown, 60, of Washington, D.C., was in another antique shop when two frantic women ran in and reported gunshots.

"Then we heard shot after shot after shot -- loud, loud, loud," said McKeown, who believes she heard approximately 20 shots.

She and three other people hid under a store staircase until it was safe to leave.

When one of our KSL crews arrived at Trolley Square, groups of people were huddled on the corners. They'd been evacuated and were waiting in the cold to be reunited with family, or to get their cars out of the parking lot, or their personal belongings.

We talked to a lot of those people. All were in different stores at the time of the shooting, but all heard the same thing.

"I heard the gunshot, and I saw the security guards run."

"Just heard this bang. Bang, bang, bang. It was just like random shots going off."

"We heard what sounded like big balloons, boxes being stamped on. You never expect gunshots. Then heard the glass doors being shot out and the gunman coming through there. We all screamed and ran and hid in the store."

"So we said to the owner of the store, 'Lock the doors. Lock the doors.' She did, and she turned the lights out so it looked like the store was closed."

Police eventually gathered all the witness inside Hard Rock Cafe to question them about what they saw.

As people ran from the mall for their lives, people also flocked to Trolley Square to see for themselves what was happening.

As KSL's Sam Penrod walked up to the scene, less than an hour after the shooting started, people were in tears and in shock, just wondering if this was really happening. They were also waiting for some kind of an indication that it was safe again. The victims who were inside the mall at the time of the shooting and ran for their lives just stood around, almost in disbelief. Many of them witnessed the shooting, they heard the shots, they saw people running and screaming to get out.

They told us they waited for the police to get here. The sight of the police cars was a huge relief, knowing that something could be done to end this nightmare.

With all the commotion, neighbors started coming out of their houses to see what was happening. Soon, fire trucks and ambulance after ambulance came to the scene. So did police officers. More than an hour after the shooting, reinforcements continued to arrive.

For those who were there Monday night, it's been terrifying and traumatizing. People are going to need time to heal emotionally, to recover from such a terrible night.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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