Efforts to ascertain who was involved in a Pittsburgh mall shooting that sent shoppers running for their lives Saturday were made even more difficult because of the lack of surveillance cameras inside the sprawling property, authorities said.
The Ross Township Police Department said an altercation involving five or six people occurred on the second floor of the Ross Park Mall. During the terrifying scene, a gun was pulled and shots were fired, though no one was hit. Two juvenile teens were taken into custody and are being questioned.
Three handguns were recovered from the two suspects, police said.
The incident prompted an evacuation of the mall, which was packed as shoppers were hunting for Memorial Day deals. Authorities think possibly up to three gunshots were fired. Investigators were also seeking four others also involved in the incident.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE IN VIDEO BELOW
Cops were at a disadvantage from the start, said Ross Township Det. Lt. Brian Kohlhepp, because the owner of the mall, The Simon Property Group, has refused to install security cameras despite multiple requests from local authorities.
"Tactically, it would have great for our SRT [Special Response Team] team to be able to have eyes in and throughout the mall as opposed to just sending officers in there blind to face the unknown," Kohlhepp told reporters.
"Our chief of police has even sent letters, I believe two or three times, to Simon corporate urging them to put cameras either inside or outside of the mall and they continually refused to do so," he added. "Days like this are why we have asked them to do so."
Investigators will rely on camera footage from stores inside the property and videos posted to social media.
Following the shooting, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Pittsburgh SWAT officers, rushed to the scene as well as EMS units.
A store manager told WPXI-TV a fight broke out outside the shop when someone yelled there was a gun. Gunshots reportedly rang out soon after.
Despite an evacuation of the mall, some shoppers remained hunkered down inside stores as authorities searched for the suspects involved.
Outside the mall, there were reports of gunshots nearby. Authorities found no evidence bullets were sent flying again or if the reports were connected to the mall shooting, Kohlhepp said.
At one point, people gathered outside were asked to move further away as police rope off the area around the parking lot, which they said was no longer safe to be near, according to local news reports.
Authorities were also searching the surrounding neighborhood and stopping cars. Local Law enforcement agencies have conducted training drills in and around the mall in the past for incidents like what happened Saturday.
A heavy police presence was seen in the area. The mall will remain closed through the rest of the evening.