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'Screams of ... terror' heard during Gardens Mall shooting

Customers flee after her shots fired
Posted at 11:08 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 23:08:56-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A shooting at the Gardens Mall on Wednesday afternoon forced people to abandon their Valentine's Day activities.

"A ton of people were crying," said Kemen Fearon, who works at Cooper's Hawk at the Gardens Mall and was hosting a Valentine's Day wine tasting.

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"Next thing you know we see 50-100 people just run, start booking it," Fearon said.

Seeing the panic, he said he quickly helped people into the restaurant and locked the doors.

Kemen Fearon, who works at Cooper's Hawk at the Gardens Mall, assisted people. Feb. 14, 2024
Kemen Fearon, who works at Cooper's Hawk at the Gardens Mall, assisted people.

"Our restaurant is pretty big so I just wanted to get any stragglers into our restaurants cause we can lock our doors so we're pretty secure in there," Fearon said.

One man said he was eating a slice of pizza when he heard what he said was 6-10 gunshots.

"There was at least a dozen people running towards me. I just grabbed what I could and took off," said the man. "It seemed more like screams of people just in terror trying to leave."

Another man was at Sephora shopping for a Valentine's Day gift when he said workers rushed everyone to the back of the store and jammed the door closed.
"I made sure I was last because I felt like if I could help in any way, I don't want to just be sitting in the back next to lipstick," the man said. "This is crazy, just to come and get lip gloss. It's nuts."

He said eventually the SWAT team showed up, got everyone in line and escorted them out of the mall.

"We walked past the food court and there was people that had their cellphones sitting next to their food, just left their cellphones and ran out," the man said. "In a scary way it kind of looked like what you would see on school shootings."

The panic was felt across the street at Palm Beach State College as emergency alerts went out that the campus was on lockdown.

"It didn't strike me until after the cops were called and they reacted so quickly and like there was really an emergency that it really sunk in that there was something big happening," said one person on campus who didn't want to be identified.
An emergency announcement could be heard saying, "Secure and lock windows and close blinds and shades. Turn off lights and monitors. Keep quiet, silence cellphones. Do not open doors during a lockdown, even in the event of a fire alarm. Stay in safe areas until directed by security, law enforcement or college administrators."

Many people who parked on the south end of the mall between Macy's and Sears were stranded as investigators searched through the parking lot for hours, but it was eventually opened.