SAN BRUNO (CBS SF) — Two teens have been hospitalized after a shooting at Tanforan Shopping Mall in San Bruno, prompting a massive police search for the suspects and the closure of the San Bruno BART station for over four hours.
The shooting was first reported to San Bruno police shortly before 4 p.m. from the nearby BART station with witnesses telling police they heard shots fired at the mall. Officers responded immediately and quickly ordered an evacuation of the entire mall.
Two teenage shooting victims were found on the second level of the mall in the area of the food court.
San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said it’s believed the shooting was a targeted shooting that possibly involved two separate shooters, and not a random mass shooting attempt. The shooters were armed with handguns and still at large as of 7 p.m.
“There was some kind of intent behind this,” said Barberini. “It wasn’t just someone just arbitrarily walking through the mall firing shots.”
The shooting victims, both juvenile African-American males, were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, according to San Bruno Fire Chief David Cresta. One of the victims was listed in critical condition and the other was listed in serious but stable condition, according to officials.
Cresta said both victims suffered gunshot wounds to the lower extremities. Two additional people who were hurt during the incident were treated and released, but their injuries were unknown, Cresta said.
“I saw people running and I heard ‘pow, pow, pow, pow!'” shopper George Castro told KPIX. “People were yelling ‘Get out of the mall, get out of the mall, there’s a shooting!'”
A witness who is a shop owner at the mall told KPIX 5 he heard about eight shots and saw at least two gunshot victims on the second floor of the mall, along with three people in handcuffs. Police have not confirmed the witness information.
Multiple witnesses described hearing the gunfire in and around the food court.
“I was actually in the food court, said Patricia Martinez, “I was eating, sitting right there. And all of a sudden we all heard gunshots, and everybody started…they got up and started running. It was crazy.”
The shooting created a scene of chaos, according to witnesses.
“Man, it was just a lot of people panicking,” said witness Vladimir Tirado. “They didn’t know what to do, people were just trying to be safe, a lot of people running. I did the same, I started going to the nearest door that was open.”
South San Francisco resident Lynn Galdamez took her grandsons to watch a movie at century theaters, when a SWAT team evacuated them.
“Right now, I can’t really even think,” said Galdamez. “I guess it’s like, I can’t really believe it.”
Police locked down the mall parking garages to do a systematic search during the investigation. That left dozens of people stuck for more than four hours waiting for the all clear so they could to get their cars.
“Just waited around. A lot of waiting in the cold for about an hour and a half or so til about 6:30, said San Bruno resident Jason Campbel. “Decided to go get a bit to eat get out of the cold, and just now getting our car.”
BART said with the San Bruno station closure, trains were also not passing through the station. There was no southbound service south of the San Bruno station, including to San Francisco International Airport, for over two hours.
A shuttle train was running between SFO and Millbrae station, and a bus bridge was in place between the South San Francisco station and SFO during the closure.
At about 6:30 p.m., BART trains began running through the San Bruno station again, though the station remained closed and trains were not be stopping there. The station finally reopened shortly after 8 p.m.
The parking garage at the San Bruno station is also closed. Authorities did not say when people who have cars parked there would be able to access them.
BART said a second station, the 12th St. Station in Oakland was also closed temporarily while a train at the station was cleared in a search for possible suspects in the shooting San Bruno. Video showed heavily armed Oakland police officers descending into the station during the search.
The 12th St. Station was reopened shortly before 5:30 p.m., but there continued to be major delays systemwide.
There were initial reports from OPD that BART police had found a firearm either on the train that was stopped or in the 12th Street station in Oakland, but BART authorities later reported that they were unsure if a gun had been located.
BART police were increasing patrols in the transit system in the wake of Tuesday’s events.
San Bruno police are currently reviewing surveillance video from the Tanforan Mall to assist in the search for the shooting suspects and will provide more information and details about their search when it becomes available.
San Bruno police also said that for those who left personal belongings in common areas at Tanforan before the evacuation Tuesday afternoon, authorities would be sending out information Wednesday morning regarding how to claim items from the police department.
The mall remained closed on Tuesday evening, but was scheduled to reopen Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., authorities said.
San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Canepa said the shooting has shocked him.
“Under no circumstance would I have thought that Tanforan would have a shooting within the mall,” Canepa said, describing it as a decades-old, family-friendly mall that is relatively safe. “This is truly, truly a tragedy.”