NBC NEWS -- Three people were killed Saturday in a shooting at a shopping mall in Columbia, Md., near Baltimore, police said.
At a news conference, Howard County, Md., Chief of Police Bill McMahon said that the gunman was believed to be one of the dead and that the shooting took place in a single store on the upper level of The Mall in Columbia. Police later identified the shop as a skate store called Zumiez.
Two federal law enforcement officials told NBC News the incident was a domestic situation, not a random shooting.
The mall would be closed through Saturday night, police said.
Earlier, police tweeted live reports from the mall, confirming three deaths and then adding that one of the victims was located near a gun and ammunition. “One of the dead subjects is the suspected shooter,” the department later tweeted.
Police said a shotgun was recovered at the scene.
The nearby Howard County General Hospital told police they were treating a victim who was shot in the foot. Three other people with “minor injuries that were not directly related to the shooting” were transported to Howard County General, police said. NBC Washington reported that one had a twisted ankle, and two people suffered seizures.
Police said the first 911 call reporting a shooting at the mall was received at 11:15 a.m.
McMahon said shoppers followed instructions from mall security to seek shelter.
“They have done what we have encouraged them to do in one of these situations,” McMahon said, adding that he had not heard reports of stampedes. Police had staged drills will mall staff in the past to prepare for an emergency situation, he said.
Those still inside the mall were being evacuated to a movie theater and allowed to leave from there if they did not witness the shooting, Howard County Fire Dispatch calls indicated. The movie theater is separate from the mall, on the opposite side of a parking lot, according to Mall in Columbia maps.
“It was a busy day,” a mall employee told NBC News. “People started running through our store,” which is at the opposite end of the mall from where the shooting happened, she said.
She said associates and customers sheltered inside a stockroom for over 90 minutes before they got in contact with police who told them they could leave.
“You really just don’t expect for something like this to happen in our community,” she said.
“We have literally no violence in the whole county, this is our quota for 2014 basically,” said Columbia resident, David Hobby.
Another witness told NBCWashington.com that she heard what she thought was “something being dropped,” but then realized it was gunshots. "They just kept shooting and it didn't stop," she said.
NBC News' Pete Williams and Mike Kosnar contributed to this report.
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