This story will be updated as information comes available.
Five people were shot — four fatally — in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Skagit County, Friday evening, and officers were fanned out searching for the shooter, according to the Washington State Patrol.
The four dead are all women, Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis said.
One man in critical condition was flown to Harborview Medical Center. It isn’t clear if there were any other victims.
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The casualty count fluctuated through the evening. Law enforcement officers first said four people were fatally shot, then lowered the toll to three before raising it again.
Francis said the suspected shooter, a man, was last seen walking west toward Interstate 5 from Cascade Mall around 7 p.m. A search at the mall and surrounding area was under way. Bomb-sniffing dogs were searching the area, and a helicopter circled the mall. Just before 11 p.m., Francis said two-thirds of the mall had been cleared, but there were locked doors and rooms that needed to be opened.
Emergency medics entered the 434,000-square-foot mall escorted by police, Francis said. Some people were still possibly holed up in the mall.
The three people killed were shot in the Macy’s store, the State Patrol said.
The trooper provided no other details on the man, other than that he is Hispanic and wearing a black shirt. Police released a security-footage photo of the man shortly after 9 p.m.
Around 9:20 p.m., police were swarming an area directly across I-5 from the mall. Police were telling people to “get out of here immediately, you’re not safe here.”
Michelle Fuller said her niece heard the shots inside the mall and led people to a nearby bathroom to hide. When her niece called “you could hear the panic in her voice.”
Residents in the area were being told to stay inside and call 911 if they see anything suspicious.
One person was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said around 9:30 p.m. The hospital didn’t anticipate any additional arrivals.
It’s unclear if there were more victims. No other details on the deceased was immediately available.
People who were inside the mall were being taken to His Place Community Church near the mall, Francis said.
Skagit County Department of Emergency Management urged people to avoid the mall area. State transportation officials asked drivers to avoid the freeway near Highway 20, as well. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the police investigation. In a tweet, the agency said it had no information to suggest more attacks were planned.
Heading to Seattle on the freeway, Ben Hagood was driving through the area around 7:40 p.m. and said he saw dozens of police vehicles, including 15 to 20 near a storefront at the mall alone.
Burlington-Edison’s football game against Lakewood at Burlington-Edison High School was postponed, according to media reports.
Gov. Jay Inslee released the following statement:
“Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight,” he said in a statement. “Our hearts are in Burlington.”
This marks Washington’s sixth mass shooting with at least four people shot this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Most recently, three people were shot dead at a house party in Mukilteo in July.
The nonpartisan organization, based in Washington, D.C., tracks and verifies incidents around the country, defining “mass shootings” as any single incident in which four or more people are fatally shot or wounded, not including the shooter.