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1 wounded in shooting at Gardens Mall; 2 persons of interest sought

Palm Beach Gardens police say shooting 'not a random act'
police tape between Brio and P.F. Chang's at Gardens Mall, Feb. 14, 2024
Posted at 8:48 AM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 19:52:38-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — One person was wounded in a targeted shooting Wednesday afternoon at the Gardens Mall, and police are now searching for two persons of interest, Palm Beach Gardens police said in a statement Thursday.

The shooting occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m. in the west end of the mall, Maj. Paul Rogers said.

Police, who were already inside the mall at the time, locked down the building while searching for the shooter, Rogers said.

One victim was later located at a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound that was not considered life-threatening, Rogers said.

"Our investigation indicates this was a targeted shooting, not a random act, and was not an active shooter incident," Rogers said.

Police are searching for two males who are considered persons of interest. One was described as wearing a purple-hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The other was described as wearing a green long-sleeve shirt with a multicolored design on the front and blue jeans.

Meanwhile, the mall reopened Thursday morning, one day after gunshots were fired inside, leading panic-stricken shoppers to seek safety and prompting an hours-long police investigation that resulted in few answers about what occurred.

Chopper 5 view of Gardens Mall parking lot near Macy's, Feb. 14, 2024
Chopper 5 flies above the parking lot of the Gardens Mall near Macy's, Feb. 14, 2024, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

WPTV spoke to numerous people who were inside the mall Wednesday afternoon when they said they heard what sounded like gunshots.

Toni Lester said she had just left Nordstrom and was walking to Starbucks on the second floor when she heard a "big bang" and wondered if something had fallen. Moments later, she saw "numerous people" running through the mall claiming there was a shooter inside.

"They said, 'There's a shooter in the mall. Get out,'" Lester said.

Lester said she was escorted outside and, before she left, police searched her vehicle.

Police tape could be seen surrounding the Brio and P.F. Chang's restaurants, and officers were seen placing police markers in the parking lot.

Chopper 5 view of police placing markers in parking lot of Gardens Mall, Feb. 14, 2024
A view from Chopper 5 shows police markers being placed in the parking lot of the Gardens Mall, Feb. 14, 2024, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Kemen Fearon, who works at Cooper's Hawk and was hosting a Valentine's Day wine tasting, said he saw "50 to 100 people just run, start booking it," and helped people inside the restaurant before locking the doors.

One man said he was eating a slice of pizza when he heard multiple gunshots and then saw people running toward him.

"It seemed more like screams of people just in terror trying to leave," he said.

Another man who was shopping for a Valentine's Day gift inside Sephora at the time said workers suddenly rushed everyone to the back of the store and jammed the door closed. He said the SWAT team eventually showed up and escorted them out of the mall.