A man who entered a Target store in Omaha, Nebraska, and fired a rifle was shot dead by law enforcement officers on Tuesday.
The Omaha police chief, Todd Schmaderer, spoke to reporters about the shooting, which happened shortly before 12 noon local time.
Several 911 calls were made about an active shooter with an AR-15 rifle inside the store, Schmaderer said, adding: “He had an AR-15 rifle with him and plenty of ammunition.”
The shooter was described as a 30-year-old white man.
“The first arriving officers went into the building, confronted the suspect and shot him dead,” Schmaderer said, as reported by NBC News.
It was unclear if the gunman fired at anyone in the store, but shell casings were found at the scene. No one was injured or taken to area hospitals, Schmaderer said.
Schmaderer said no wounded people were found, and police searched through the store “because there were some people hiding in there”.
Remus Smolksy, who was in the store when the shooting took place, described chaos as people evacuated.
“I saw people running out and I saw a lady carrying her two kids that looked terrified, pushing a cart,” Smolksy told WOWT, an NBC News affiliate. “One of the employees said that there was a shooter.”
Cathy Mahannah, another customer, described “sheer panic”.
The 62-year-old grandmother was near the entrance picking out Valentine’s Day gifts when she heard a banging. She thought something had fallen, then saw people running for the exit.
A shopper told her there was an active shooter, and she fled. She heard at least one more shot in the store and a few more from outside.
Mahannah was so rattled she couldn’t find her car and jumped into a vehicle with a stranger.
She said: “The moments in that parking lot were terrifying when I heard the shots and thought, ‘Where do I hide? I don’t know what to do.’”
Among the Target employees who fled were two 21-year-olds, Lauren Murphy and Samuel Jacobsen.
Murphy was in the restroom when she heard the shots. She texted family and friends, telling them she loved them, and climbed on to a toilet so her feet would not show at the bottom of the stall if the shooter came in.
Relief washed over her when police entered the restroom. A child next to her was crying.
“I was scared that this is how I might die, at work,” Murphy said. “It was just terrifying.”
Jacobsen was filling a personal shopping order. He had never heard a gunshot before and was uncertain what he was hearing.
“Then my co-worker ran by and she said, ‘He’s got a gun, get out!’ I was like, ‘Oh, this is real. I have to get out, I have to get out, I have to get out.’”
Lt Neal Bonacci, a police spokesperson, said officers were trained to enter such scenes quickly to prevent mass casualties.
“We’ve learned a lot from other jurisdictions, other areas, other cities that have unfortunately experienced this,” he said. “We enter right away. We’re trained to do so. Whether it’s one officer or 10, we go inside and neutralize the threat.”
A Target spokesperson said: “Following an incident in our Omaha West store, we can confirm that all guests and team members safely evacuated the store. The store will remain closed until further notice. We are partnering with the Omaha police as we learn more.”
Police warned civilians to avoid the area. FBI personnel were on the scene.
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