Police officers and emergency medical personnel stand outside the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., on Friday night after a gunman shot at least five people inside the shopping center and fled on foot. The suspect, a Hispanic male wearing a black T-shirt, was last seen walking away from the scene toward Interstate 5. Burlington is 65 miles north of Seattle. Photo courtesy Sgt. Mark Francis/Washington State Patrol
BURLINGTON, Wash., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- At least three people were killed and two others were wounded by gunfire at a shopping center in northwest Washington Friday night, by a shooter who escaped on foot and remains at large, authorities said.
The shootings happened just before 7 p.m. local time Friday at the Cascade Mall in the town of Burlington, about 65 miles north of Seattle -- and just 45 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border.
Police surrounded the retail center, called in bomb-sniffing dogs and summoned a helicopter to survey the scene from the air. Despite the quick response, officials said the gunman got away -- last seen walking toward Interstate 5, The Seattle Times reported.
Sgt. Mark Francis/Washington State Patrol/Twitter
A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol said the three dead victims, who were not immediately identified, are all women and were each gunned down inside a Macy's department store at the shopping center.
Officials say a man hit by the gunfire was flown to a hospital in Seattle with critical injuries. The other victim, a female, was treated for non-life-threatening wounds.
Investigators don't yet have an identity for the suspected shooter, but they released still images of the person they believe is the gunman -- taken from surveillance video at the Cascade Mall. He appears to be a Hispanic male and wore a black T-shirt in the video frames, police said.
A still image from surveillance video at the Cascade Mall in northern Washington shows the man police believe was responsible for shooting at least five people inside the shopping center on Friday night. Officials believe he is Hispanic and that he initially fled the scene on foot, not in a vehicle. Image courtesy Skagit County Department of Emergency Management
"We're doing everything we can to find this person," Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis told Seattle's KOMO-TV, asking residents, "If you see something ... say something."
"Avoid the area. If you live close to the area, stay inside -- lock your doors," he added.
The Cascade Mall, a 430,000-square foot shopping center, was locked down following the shootings and police searched every store inside for the suspect, undiscovered victims or any additional threats. None were found.
Authorities in Skagit County dispatched nearly a dozen search teams and two K-9 units to scour the immediate vicinity of the mall for the suspect, particularly because witnesses said he initially fled on foot and not in a vehicle.
"Secure building. Investigate. Track down the shooter. These are the next steps," the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management said via Twitter a short time after the shootings.
Police initially stated that four people had been shot to death but later revised the number to three.
The Seattle office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is lending personnel and intelligence support to the manhunt.
This is a developing story