The man recalls that when he heard the shooting inside the Mall of America, the police arrested 5 suspects
The cellphone video recorded by Jovonta Patton shows him and a friend inside a Gucci store at Nordstrom, inside the Mall of America.
Suddenly, a disturbance occurs, and the phone suddenly points to the ground.
“While it’s being filmed, we hear gunshots,” Patton recalled. “What you see in the video caught us all off guard, and it’s all in real time, so it’s our first reaction.”
North Minneapolis husband and father of three girls, Patton was in the Gucci store to shoot a social media post — and to buy some gifts for his family.
He says he was in the midst of asking his girlfriend if she had seen a bag she liked – when a loud noise echoed through the shop.
“This explosive sound was like a bang, and then I heard a scream,” Patton says. “My first thought is — is someone out there to shoot as many people as possible. Let me carry these women to the back, and that’s how we get to the back of the Gucci store, which is very safe.”
Like hundreds of other shoppers, Patton and his friends hunkered down during the one-hour lockdown.
Police say the shooting began around 8 p.m., after a fight broke out between a group of nine people at a Nordstrom store.
Then, authorities say, someone pulled a gun and shot and killed a 19-year-old man in the metro area.
“Yesterday was the first gun-related murder in the history of the Mall of America,” Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges told reporters.
Hodges says after an all-night investigation — on Saturday morning, police from several area departments, including SWAT officers from Edina and Minnetonka, executed a search warrant at the St. Louis Park address and arrested five people: two 18-year-old men, and Three boys of 17 years old.
The 18-year-olds have been identified as Tayshawn Wright and DeAndre Diprato.
Due to their age, 17-year-olds are considered juvenile suspects.
As such, their identities have not been revealed by the authorities.
The presiding judge says all five are likely to make their first court appearance on Tuesday.
Hodges says they face second-degree murder charges.
He adds that one of the two youths, both 18 years old, is the accused shooter.
“We’re really confident that the person responsible for killing the victim is in custody,” he explains. “We think this is some kind of long-standing feud, and it’s something that happens. But no one is cooperating with us right now.”
Over the past year, there have been several shootings in the mall.
In August, shots were fired at a crowded Nike store.
No one was injured, and several people were later arrested.
Weeks later, there was a stop at Lids’ store, when a man walked in and robbed the store with an AR-15.
On New Year’s Eve 2021, the mall was closed after two people were shot on the third floor.
Hodges says the Department of Agriculture is taking steps to address security issues, including testing advanced security checks at one entrance to check for weapons as shoppers enter the mall.
Shoppers who spoke with 5 EYEWITNES NEWS say they were saddened to hear about the loss of life on Friday.
“Oh my God, it’s a tragedy, isn’t it,” John Fleur, of White Bear Lake, stated. “Just before Christmas, it’s awful.”
We asked several people what they thought of the increase in security measures such as metal detectors at mall entrances.
“I’m a big supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, so as long as it doesn’t violate it, I’d be happy with one,” says Fleur. “But I like a longer dialogue than a gut reaction to a gunshot.”
“I feel like it would be like putting a band-aid on a deep wound,” adds Barbara Jasedlin, of Golden Valley. “I don’t think that’s really going to do much. When we start regulating guns more closely in society, we’ll be able to facilitate a safer experience for all of us.”
Meanwhile, this weekend, Patton says he’s thinking of the 19-year-old and his family.
“My prayers are with the family,” he says softly. “So my prayers are with them, and with all of us, too.”
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