McALLEN, Texas – Glass cases being smashed during an attempted robbery Saturday at a jewelry store in a popular Texas mall were misconstrued as gunfire and sent people running for the exits, authorities and witnesses said.
All known suspects in the attempted robbery at the La Plaza Mall in McAllen were taken into custody, the city's police chief, Victor Rodriguez, said in a statement that the city government posted on Twitter.
Madeline Madden, a 17-year-old from McAllen, told The Monitor of McAllen that she was inside Glitz and Glamour, a boutique just across from the mall, when she saw people rush out of the mall and into the parking lot.
She said one frightened couple ran into the boutique seeking safety.
"The man and his wife came in with their kids and asked if they were going to lock the door, and they told us what happened ... that there had been a shooting," Madden said. "They were trying to get away. The wife was crying and the man looked really nervous. They had a newborn and a toddler with them, and the toddler was crying. Someone else came and had cuts all over them from falling. We had to lock the doors and wouldn't let anyone else into the store."
Dozens of other people could be seen running from the mall while many others inside rushed to the exits or sought cover amid the confusion.
Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including officers from the McAllen Police Department, Hidalgo County sheriff's office and Texas Department of Public Safety.
McAllen police Lt. Joel Morales declined to release any additional information, citing the ongoing investigation, but Rodriguez told The Monitor that seven people were taken into custody. It's not clear what charges may be pending against them.
The mall was closed as authorities responded to the robbery, but it reopened later Saturday.
The mall is one of the primary shopping centers in the Rio Grande Valley. McAllen is near the border with Mexico and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the Gulf Coast.