People run for cover, panic ensues in Dallas mall at sound of someone banging a skateboard

Shoppers ran for their lives after hearing what they thought were gunshots inside a Dallas mall on Monday. It turned out to be a person banging a skateboard on the floor of a food court.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie García stated during a press briefing that officers responded to a report of an active shooter in the NorthPark Center Mall. The incident led to full-blown panic and chaos inside the shopping center as people tried to get away from what they thought was a mass shooting.

Videos taken of the panicked shoppers show them fleeing for their lives as an alarm sounded. It didn’t take much for a populace on edge to draw the wrong conclusion and thousands stampeded for the exits over the false alarm. The mall was evacuated at that point.

“As it turns out, it was a mentally disturbed individual with a skateboard in the middle of the mall, or in the middle of the food court, who started pounding the skateboard on the floor. That sound obviously caused a panic,” Garcia remarked.

(Video Credit: FOX 4 Dallas-Fort Worth)

Garcia said the man was making wild gestures with his hands as if he were pretending to shoot into the fleeing crowd. That added to the panic. The police chief commented that “off duty elements” confronted the suspect just minutes before on-duty police officers showed up and addressed the man. It only took three minutes for the police to respond to the call.

“We thank God that this was what it was,” Garcia added concerning the false alarm.

“Obviously with the country – particularly what it is right now – there’s a lot of trauma. I don’t blame these individuals one bit. This is what’s occurring right now,” the police chief said.

“This is something every law enforcement agency in America needs to be prepared for,” he advised, stating that this was “not a joke” and police plan to prosecute the individual to the full extent of the law.

“People could have gotten seriously injured,” he remarked.

The mall also confirmed the incident and its details via Twitter. “Investigations are still ongoing, but at this time neither NorthPark nor the Dallas Police Department have found any evidence that anyone fired a gun on Monday afternoon. No injuries have been reported,” the mall’s account announced.

“An individual apparently banged a skateboard against the floor, causing a sound similar to gunfire. That individual is now in custody,” the mall also tweeted.

“I was hiding in the bathroom for 10 minutes,” said one restaurant employee at the food court.

A shopper who was in the food court heard loud banging before the alarms started going off: “Everybody was rushing to get out the door,” he said to WFAA. “People were pushing as they were trying to get out.”

The man was taken into custody and then transported to an area hospital for a medical/psych evaluation. He did not have a gun on him.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries reported. There were no firearms found at the scene and it is unclear what the suspect may be charged with at this point.

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