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Florida police arrest suspect in deadly pre-Christmas mall shooting

Albert Shell Jr., 39, was arrested early Monday morning. He is a suspect, according to the Ocala Police Department, in the pre-Christmas shooting at a crowded Florida shopping mall where one man was killed and a woman was injured. Photo courtesy of Ocala Police Department/Facebook
Albert Shell Jr., 39, was arrested early Monday morning. He is a suspect, according to the Ocala Police Department, in the pre-Christmas shooting at a crowded Florida shopping mall where one man was killed and a woman was injured. Photo courtesy of Ocala Police Department/Facebook

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Police in Florida have arrested the suspected gunman in a shooting at a crowded Ocala shopping mall that killed a man and injured a woman two days before Christmas.

The Ocala Police Department announced Monday that Albert Shell Jr., 39, was in custody.

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"Law enforcement surrounded the house and negotiated with Mr. Shell for about two hours. He ultimately came out and surrendered without incident and was taken into custody," Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken told reporters.

"The Ocala Police Department, in collaboration with the United States Marshals Service, has apprehended Albert Shell Jr., the murder suspect involved in the deadly shooting at the Paddock Mall that occurred on Dec. 23," the department wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, along with video of the arrest.

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The video shows Shell following officers' instructions as he walks toward them with his hands in the air early Monday morning.

"Get down on your knees, please. Put your hands behind your back," an officer is heard saying before handcuffing Shell, putting him into the back of a patrol car and thanking him for surrendering.

Police announced Christmas Eve that they were searching for Shell, after 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron died in the shooting. A woman, who was not named, was shot in the leg.

Officers said the suspect -- who was wearing black pants, a hoodie, a black face mask and a red hat -- escaped the mall on foot. Police credited their quick identification of the suspect to the many witnesses who were shopping that day.

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," Balken said after the shooting.

A $5,000 reward was offered for any information leading to an arrest. Balkin said they received "well over a hundred tips" as to Shell's whereabouts.

Meanwhile, police on Monday urged one witness -- seen in surveillance video taking the red hat from the shopping mall shooting scene -- to return it "immediately" or face a felony charge of tampering with evidence.

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"That hat may contain valuable DNA evidence, and we need it back," Ocala police said. "We urge you to do the right thing and come forward immediately. Time is of the essence."

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