Crime

Police close Oak Park Mall to investigate reports of gunshots, 2nd time in two months

Police investigating reports of shots fired at Oak Park Mall

The Overland Park Park Police Department and surrounding agencies responded to multiple reports of shots fired outside the food court at Oak Park Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.
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The Overland Park Park Police Department and surrounding agencies responded to multiple reports of shots fired outside the food court at Oak Park Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.

Oak Park Mall in Overland Park was shut down Wednesday night as police investigated a report of gunfire outside the mall’s east entrance.

The incident comes exactly two months after a shooting at the mall. On the evening of Oct. 26, a scuffle led to shots being fired outside the food court entrance there.

At about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Overland Park police received several phone calls that shots were fired at the mall, 11121 W. 95th St., said spokesman John Lacy. Police found several shell casings east of the food court in the parking lot near Macy’s, but no blood, he said.

An unoccupied vehicle in the lot was struck by gunfire, police said. Police were seeking a suspect and any possible victims.

Upon hearing the shots, shoppers poured out of the mall and into the rain, but some had to stay put inside as the police put the stores on lockdown.

“We were just in Charlotte (Russe), just trying on clothes, trying to get ready for the new year,” shopper Yesica Gracia, 19, told The Star outside of the mall. “We just saw people running. We got closed into the store.”

“The alarm started (sounding),” added her friend Madeline Bradley, also 19. “And they closed the gate and they asked us to move back into the dressing room, as far back as we could. We didn’t really know what was going on, but we knew that we needed to be protected.”

Jasmine Montevechi was standing at a kiosk near the food court when she suddenly saw “20 to 30” young people running and yelling near Macy’s.

“Then there was just like ‘bam’ and everybody started running,” she said. “Personally, I didn’t think it sounded like a gunshot, but everyone else thought it was.”

Nate Leonard, who was also inside the mall, said people couldn’t tell whether they were hearing gunfire or fireworks. He credited police for their quick response.

“Police were here,” he said. “They had officers on the scene within two minutes or less. It was amazing.”

Piyush Patel, manager at the Subway restaurant in the mall, said he was cleaning when he heard what sounded like gunfire.

“Doo doo doo doo doo,” he said, mimicking the sound.

Patel and his wife, who works with him at the Subway, recalled the October incident as they stood outside the mall Wednesday.

After that shooting, Melgene C. Martin of Kansas City, Kan., was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm at a structure and two counts of aggravated endangering a child.

“Two times,” Patel said. “It’s too much.”

Oak Park officials tweeted that they expected the mall to resume regular hours on Thursday, opening at 10 a.m.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Overland Park Police Department at 913-895-6300 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

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