COLUMBIA, United States (AFP) - Three people were killed in a shooting at a popular shopping mall in a suburb of the US capital, authorities said on Saturday.
Howard County Police, which announced the fatalities via Twitter, said the suspected shooter at the Columbia Mall was among the dead.
“Police are in mall to clear people out safely,” it tweeted. “Mall is believed to be secure, but people inside should wait for police.”
Authorities were alerted by an emergency call to police at 1615 GMT that indicated shots were fired, it said.
“Police made entry and found three dead, one found near a gun and ammunition,” it tweeted.
It did not immediately provide more details on the other victims or on the motive of the shooting.
News reports said that the mall, located about 45 minutes outside Washington, was on “lockdown” because of an “active shooter situation”.
Howard County Fire and Rescue tweeted they were en route to the scene, and urged local residents to “avoid area”.
The mall of about 200 stores in Howard County, Maryland, is a popular weekend destination for families and young children for its indoor carousel and play area.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper said shoppers reported hearing gunfire before fleeing the upscale mall, home to several department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
NBC television spoke to one man who said he was in phone contact with his daughter, who was taking shelter in a Bank of America inside the shopping center, along with dozens of others.
The young woman described a chaotic scene as shoppers were told to evacuate or quickly take shelter.
“People were panicking,” the man said.