Chandler mall visitors make quick exit after shootout - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Chandler mall visitors make quick exit after shootout

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Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 7:09 pm | Updated: 6:45 pm, Wed Nov 26, 2014.

People inside the Chandler Fashion Center when it went on lock-down in the wake of a gunfight Wednesday say they heard yelling and a scuffle, followed by security's orders over the loudspeaker that everyone evacuate the mall.

"I heard yelling, I heard screaming," said one store manager, who couldn't identify herself or her store name due to company policy.

Michael Beyne, a worker for Auntie Anne's Pretzels in the mall, said it was a very chaotic scene after U.S. Marshals and SWAT team members arrived at the mall, which he said was crowded.

"They were running after him with guns drawn yelling and hollering and screaming at everyone, 'Get out! Get out of the mall,' as people were running.

"You don't expect that at Chandler Fashion mall. It was chaotic."

Another witness said workers and shoppers all made a hasty exit after the announcements began.

"All I heard was, ‘Get out of the mall, now,'" she said. "People just ran for the exits and that was it."

The mall reopened around 5 p.m., after police combed the facility for several hours.

"This is a large property and it's going to take a lot of time to search through it," said Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler Police Department spokesman. "There are a lot of hallways and alcoves and places where people could be."

Shopper George Mayelben, a winter visitor from South Dakota, said he entered the mall through Sears while it was still on lockdown, unaware that anything was amiss. The doors were unlocked. Nearly the only people inside were security and law enforcement, and the shops and displays were left unattended, he said.

"There are goods just out in the open," Mayelben said.

Trevor Taft, an employee at the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant, said when he arrived for his shift, he found the place empty.

"All the lights are down. Everything's closed down," he said.

Customers allowed into the mall after it reopened found almost all the stores closed for the remainder of the day.

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Contact Writer: (480) 898-7914 or acohn@ahwatukee.com

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