Four women were killed and a man was critically wounded today in a shooting at a mall in the US state of Washington with the gunman described as a "Hispanic male" still at large.
Police are searching for one shooter and are sweeping stores in the Cascade mall, Sgt Mark Francis said about the shooting in Burlington, about a 100 km north of Seattle.
Authorities said four women were killed in the shooting while a man was critically wounded. Francis, a spokesman for the state patrol, said the victims were shot in the makeup department of the Macy's store.
"We have one adult male victim from the Burlington mall shooting who arrived by air this evening to Harborview Medical Center at approximately 9:30 PM (local time Friday). He is in critical condition," hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg was quoted as saying by CNN.
Authorities released a surveillance image of the suspect apparently walking through a store and holding a rifle. Francis said police did not know the gunman's motive. He said the ages of the victims appeared to range from their 20s to elderly, but had no further identifying information.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement that many questions remain but state patrol and local law enforcement are on the scene working swiftly to locate the shooter and clear the area.
"Trudi and I send our condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for anyone injured," Inslee said. "We urge residents to heed all safety and detour warnings. Stay close to your friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect's capture."
The FBI's Seattle office announced that it was assisting local investigators with intelligence reviews and manpower. The bureau said on Twitter that it "has no information to suggest additional attacks planned" in Washington state but did not elaborate.
Tari Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald she was in the Macy's women's dressing room when she heard "what sounded like four balloons popping."
"Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn't feel right. And it got very quiet. And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store," Caswell said.
Authorities also released a photo of a man believed to be the gunman. "Here is the shooter. We believe just one shooter...Armed with rifle," Francis tweeted. He said police are "actively searching for suspect, tracking leads."
Washington State Trooper Rick Johnson said they had reports of the suspect "walking toward the freeway, had reports of him behind...some buildings, they're canvassing the area right now, and...(he) has not been located at this time."
According to local media reports, the shooter apparently entered the mall about 7 PM (local time Friday) through one of its stores 'Macy's'. Brandi Montreuil, who was at the mall, said she was at the movies when they were told to leave.
"I didn't know anything. The theater attendant came in and apologised for stopping the movie and said they (theater staff) were asked to have everyone leave immediately," she was quoted as saying by CNN. She said at first she thought it was a drill.
"But you immediately think about what happened in Aurora, Colorado, so you start moving faster," Montreuil said, referring to the shooting in 2012 that left 12 dead.
When they got outside, they saw numerous police vehicles, but with no officers in sight. "We didn't know if it was a fire so we were looking for smoke of some kind. Then a few officers started canvassing through the crowds asking if anybody saw anything," Montreuil said.
She said an officer "with a large gun started yelling for people to leave, and fast".
The shooting marks Washington’s sixth mass shooting with at least four victims this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Three people were shot to death at a house party in Mukilteo in July.