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4 wounded in shooting at Missouri shopping mall near Kansas City; 3 suspects in custody

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Gunfire erupted at a shopping mall near Kansas City on Friday, wounding four people and sending panicked shoppers rushing for shelter.

The shooting happened around 2:20 p.m. in the main entrance of the Independence Center, according to Independence police Officer Jack Taylor. One victim was hit in the head and was in critical condition, and the conditions of the other three were not known.

Three people fled in a vehicle and were taken into custody near the mall, Taylor said.

The cause of the shooting wasn’t immediately known, but Taylor said a conflict arose when two groups met up.

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Police have a substation at the mall, but Taylor said the officer assigned there was not working because of the Veterans Day holiday. Another Independence officer who was working at a store responded.

Nick Stephens told KMBC-TV that when the gunfire rang out, he initially thought something had fallen and didn’t think much of it.

“Then I saw people looking for a hiding spot,” he said. “When I saw people actually running, I grabbed my stuff and ‘we gotta go.’ The mall security told everyone to get out.”

Christopher Stephens said the noise was so loud he could hear it through his headphones.

“I was watching video on my phone and volume all the way up and I heard what sounded like an automatic gun,” he said. “I’m thinking someone fell. I see people running and telling us to go. He’s got a gun.”

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The Independence Center, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Kansas City, has been the scene of other violence. Large fights in 2020 — one involving as many as 500 people — led it to enact a curfew. A 17-year was fatally shot outside the mall in 2018, and another shooting in 2012 wounded two.

Independence Center management declined to comment immediately on Friday’s shooting.