Chandler Mall shooting suspect fired 30 rounds in parking lot, police say; new details revealed
CHANDLER, Ariz. - Chandler Police officials say they are investigating a shooting incident at Chandler Fashion Center, also known as Chandler Mall, on Aug. 1.
A day later, 19-year-old Nathaniel Anthony Vensor was arrested for allegedly shooting at least 30 rounds in the parking lot of the mall. Still, police maintain that no one was injured.
"At 10:34 am on August 2, 2022, police were dispatched to the Chandler Fashion Center with reports from security of Vensor shopping inside the mall. As Officers arrived, video surveillance captured Vensor shopping. Police arrested Vensor at 11:03 am. Vensor was unarmed and wearing the same baseball cap he purchased at the mall before the shooting on August 1, 2022," police said.
Court documents reveal new details
Chandler Police also released court documents related to the suspect.
The incident reportedly started when Vensor, armed with an AR-15 rifle, tried to rob a man in the parking lot.
"The victim refused to turn over his property to Vensor. According to the victim, Vensor fired shots at him and in the air. Vensor then fled the scene with his girlfriend in her vehicle, and the victim ran to safety inside the mall," read a portion of the court documents.
During the investigation, police found a total of 30 bullet casings where the attempted robbery occurred.
Surveillance footage from earlier in the day had showed the victim, Vensor, Vensor's girlfriend and another person all coming to the mall together.
When they all left, court documents say the accused shooter immediately walking to the passenger's side of his girlfriend's car to get the gun. That's when the robbery happened.
"The video is not clear but does show the altercation described," documents read.
Vensor came back to the mall later in the day, and he was arrested after mall security notified police.
At the time of Vensor's arrest, investigators said they found 30 fentanyl pills in his possession, and during an interview that was conducted after Vensor was read his Miranda warnings, investigators noted that Vensor appeared to be under the influence of a narcotic drug.
The 19-year-old is already on probation in Pinal County for discharge of a firearm at a residential structure.
He faces charges including armed robbery, aggravated assault, weapons possession, and drug possession.
Shoppers describe scene
Sierra Thomas, who was at the mall at the time of the incident, described what happened as shoppers ran away.
"We're coming down the escalators, and we heard a bunch of people running through the halls, and we heard that there were shots fired," said Thomas. "We exited [through] the Forever 21 [exit]. Everyone was running. Everyone was tripping over each other. It's pretty scary."
The incident left some shoppers on edge.
"On Twitter, it says it's not a threat to the community or the mall, but now he is out in the community, so it's like, is he gonna go to Scottsdale next? Paradise Valley? What's next?" said Cassidy Wallin.
Chandler Mall has seen previous incidents
This is not the first time Chandler Mall has seen a violent incident.
On March 2021, a fight at the mall ended with a stabbing incident that left some people injured. Four people were arrested in connection with the incident in May 2021. They were identified as Andrew Courtney, Tarik Deeb, Isaias Reece, and Nicholas Aguilar.
Phoenix area malls have seen incidents in recent years
The Phoenix area has seen a number of public safety incidents at shopping malls in recent years.
The incident at Chandler Mall on Aug. 1 happened just days after an incident at Arizona Mills, where authorities say an altercation led to reports of shots being fired. In this case, however, police officials said it is unclear if there were any shots actually fired, or if the reported loud noises came from the sounds of security gates closing. No injuries were reported.
In March 2022, a shooting injured a number of people, including a four-year-old child, at the Tanger Outlets near the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale. Police later arrested a 17-year-old in connection with the incident. The teen, according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, will be charged as an adult, is identified as Raul Ulices Franco.
In May of 2020, three people were shot at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale. The shooter, since identified as Armando Hernandez Jr., admitted to carrying out the shooting, and told police he had been bullied, and wanted to gain respoct. He also said he had intended to injure 10 people.
On July 8, 2022, we reported that Hernandez, who pleaded guilty to four charges, included attempted murder, on a plea deal, was sentenced to 44 years in prison. Following his released, Hernandez will be placed under supervised probation for an additional seven years. He is barred from owning a weapon, and can never return to Westgate.
(Click here for interactive map)