WAUWATOSA, Wis. - The Wauwatosa Police Department and several other law enforcement agencies responded to a shooting incident that transpired at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa on Friday afternoon, Nov. 20.
Officials said eight victims were injured and have been transported to the hospital. None of the victims' injuries appear to be life-threatening, officials said -- and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office was not dispatched to the scene.
There were approximately 75 police officers on the scene as authorities swept the area and searched for a suspect(s).
"It's really disappointing, disheartening," activist Tracey Dent, co-founder of the Milwaukee Coalition Against Hate, said. "It's insane, and I pray for all the people who got shot. Hopefully, no one is gonna die because of this. It's just frustrating."
FOX6 News at the scene saw what seemed to be the entire front half of the mall parking lot outside Macy's filled with police vehicles, mall employees and shoppers who, slowly, were allowed to leave the building.
Several people who spoke to FOX6 News reported hearing multiple gunshots. When that happened, one employee said, customers began running wherever they could to find an exit.
"People started running, then I ducked because I didn't know where it was coming from," said shopper Aaron Perry. "Then wen a second round of shots rang out, I figured it was from Macy's past the movie theater. I ran inside of PINK. Just shaken up, unaware of what was going on outside of the store."
Not all could make it out of the mall right away, though. Shoppers and workers hid in back rooms and waited for hours as SWAT teams cleared the area.
It was a group effort, as some shoppers even helped employees to herd people into stores and lock the doors -- providing a safe place to hide, whether it be a storage room, dressing room or bathroom.
Some waited, hidden for hours until law enforcement came through around to safely evacuate them from the mall.
Multiple people who were inside when shots rang out told FOX6 News that they have been in touch with loved ones, some from out of state, who were worried.
Workers, shoppers react
Workers and shoppers who were evacuated and witnessed the chaotic scene as law enforcement searched for the shooting suspect(s) spoke with FOX6 News outside of the mall.
Two relatives of a man who worked at a Mayfair Mall kiosk arrived at the mall after hearing of the shooting. A nephew said the man recently moved here from Pakistan.
The man's nephew told FOX6 that he was shot twice in the leg. He, too, works at the mall.
"It's just a lot to take in," the nephew said. "I'm really close to my uncle."
A worker from the Mayfair Mall food court, described what unfolded when they heard the shots.
"Terrifying. Very scary. And I've never experienced anything like this," he said.
He said he and his co-workers were able to get out unharmed.
A woman who was on the mall's second level when shots were fired said she had just started her shift. She said she heard about five shots.
She said an active shooter situation is something that she and co-workers have prepared for, but that experiencing it is, understandably, scary.
"I've never experienced something like this," she said. "We practice all the time at work for something like this happening, but for actually to be in the moment is a whole other thing."
An Illinois resident was shopping at the mall for the first time when he heard gunshots. He said he thought at first someone that the loud noise was someone knocking something over, but then heard more shots ring out.
He said he heard people say "Oh my Gog, there's a shooter" and "run, run, run."
"I've never had fear like that in my life," he said.
As law enforcement continued evacuation efforts, FOX6 News spoke with a woman who said she was able to get out safely but that her niece was still inside.
"It's very heartwrenching. It's emotional," the woman said, adding that her niece is OK. "She's able to Facetime us and let us know she's doing fine."
She said she was shopping at Macy's and that law enforcement was working to get her niece and others out.