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Police continue search for suspect in deadly Florida mall shooting

The Ocala Police Department has released a mugshot of the suspect wanted for murder at a shooting at a mall in Florida. Photo courtesy of Ocala Police Department/Facebook
The Ocala Police Department has released a mugshot of the suspect wanted for murder at a shooting at a mall in Florida. Photo courtesy of Ocala Police Department/Facebook

Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Police continue the search for the suspect in an Ocala, Florida mall shooting that left one dead and one wounded on the day before Christmas Eve, often one of the year's busiest shopping days.

Police said 40-year-old Nathaniel Barron was found dead from gunshot wounds in the Paddock Mall, CNN reported. A woman, not named by police, was shot in the leg and is expected to survive.

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Police Chief Mike Balken said the shooting was the act of one assailant, whom Balken described as a Black man who was wearing black pants, a hoodie and black face mask. The suspect fled the mall on foot following the shooting, Balken said.

Police released several images of a "person of interest" in the case early on Christmas Eve, and asked the public to help identify the man, who was shown wearing dark clothes, white sneakers and a red hat. The police did not address the discrepancy in Balken's description and the images released Sunday.

But Balken did say there were "a lot of people inside the mall" when the shooting occurred, "which means there's a lot of witnesses that could potentially help us bring this case to a successful resolution."

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Gun violence in the U.S. continues to increase at a numbing pace. As of Sunday morning, more than 42,000 people have died from guns in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. More than 18,400 of them were the result of a homicide, the report said.

Police responded to an "active shooter" scenario at the Paddock Mall in Ocala Saturday after they received a call about 3:40 p.m. of multiple shots fired, Balken said Saturday.

"Officers immediately made entry into the mall and ultimately discovered this was not an active shooter situation," Balken said during a press briefing Saturday.

Police discovered the victims and recovered the gun they believe was used in the shooting, Balken said.

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