The scene after the Mayfair Mall

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A shooter opened fire on the Mayfair shopping center in Wauwatosa on Friday afternoon, injuring seven adults and a teenager, officials said.

Witnesses described the shooter as a white man in his 20s or 30s, Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said at a news conference just before noon.

Investigators are working to determine the identity of the shooter and have not said anything about what may have caused the shot.

“When emergency personnel arrived, the shooter was no longer on the scene,” Weber said.

When asked if the shooter was still in the mall, the boss replied, “We do not know.”

“The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time,” Weber said of the victims. “Everyone was alive at the time, though, so there have been no deaths that I am aware of.”

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Froedtert Hospital and Wisconsin for Children were notified of a shooting at the Mayfair Mall shortly after noon. 15, and the trauma team of both hospitals were, according to a spokeswoman, ready to receive patients.

The shooting took place around 2.50pm at the entrance to the Northwest Mall near Macy’s. Hours later, officers continued to clear the mall and had designated the At Home Store, 3201 North Mayfair Road, as a reunion area for those who had been inside the mall.

Witnesses inside the mall reported hearing several shots around 3 p.m., sending people fleeing after the exits or to other places where they could safely remember in place. On-site journalists and news helicopters captured video of at least four people being loaded into ambulances in the parking lot.

More than 40 police cars and 100 officers and agents from local and federal law enforcement – some in tactical gear and with shields – could be seen outside the mall Friday night.

“We ask the public to stay away from the area and be patient so that our law enforcement personnel can secure the site and investigate,” Weber said.

Later Friday, mall representatives released a statement thanking police for Wauwatosa and confirming the mall was closed.

“We are discouraged and angry that our guests and tenants were exposed to this violent incident today,” the statement said.

Governor Tony Evers said he and his wife thought of those injured and their families and wished them speedy recovery.

“We offer our support to the entire Wauwatosa community as they contend with this tragedy,” he said.

Testimonials: ‘It was very scary’

Two hours after the shots rang, the area around the mall was crowded with police officers and affected friends and family members of those who had been inside.

Waseem Dilshad said his uncle was working in a kiosk near Macy’s when he was shot in the leg twice and was not in critical condition.

Dilshad’s cousin also worked at the kiosk and saw the shooting happen. He was on the phone with Dilshad at the time.

“He started cursing and shouting and said, ‘I want to call you, there’s blood everywhere,'” Dilshad said.

His uncle was taken to Froedtert Hospital and his cousin remained inside the mall, Dilshad said shortly before noon.

Cecilia Guerrero, 20, of West Milwaukee, covered inside the OFFLINE of the Aerie store with her sister, Anahi, a family of three and four business partners.

Guerrero said she had been in the locked room since about 6 p.m.

“It was very scary,” Guerrero said. “I was very nervous at first when we did not know what was going on. But now that I’m safe and no one can come in, I’m okay. But it was very freaky and there was some panic.”

Guerrero said even though these shootings are “more common,” she did not think it would happen there.

Samantha Paul, 24, had just walked through the second set of doors to Mayfair when a stranger grabbed his arm and said, “Leave. There’s a shooting game.”

“I was shaking and crying, and I was still crying,” Paul said. “I’m so grateful she grabbed me.”

As soon as she started running, she said it looked like hundreds of people were running towards their cars, with many trying to flee and others shouting at police to ask what happened.

“I never thought I would be in this situation,” she said. “I love Mayfair. Even with the protests, I still felt comfortable going there. (Now), I do not want to go there alone again. It was scary that this happened at 3pm.”

Recording took place near Macy’s

Gordon Lugauer was in the back office of his Board Game Barrister store when he heard gunshots.

It was “sudden and abrupt,” he said.

He returned to the front of the store, where his staff and about half a dozen customers had fallen to the floor.

No one inside was injured, but he saw several people injured outside his store on the first floor of the mall near Macy’s.

A person who had been waiting to enter the store due to rules of social distance was shot in the leg. Lugauer and his staff helped the injured man into the store waiting for paramedics.

Jill Wooley was inside Macy’s with her 79-year-old mother when she said she heard eight to 12 shots coming from inside the mall.

They fell to the ground for a moment and then ran in the opposite direction.

“Unfortunately, we have all thought about what we would do in that situation. Unfortunately, it kicked in and we came to a safe place, ”she said.

When Wooley and her mother came out of the mall, she said her mother was shaken and the police gave her a blanket.

“All of this has not sunk in completely yet,” Wooley said. “I think there’s a certain shock going on.”

Latest in range of shootings

The shooting at the mall marks at least the fourth time this year that several people have been injured by gunfire in a single incident in the Milwaukee area.

In February, five workers at MolsonCoors’ Milwaukee brewery were fatally shot by a 51-year-old colleague who then shot and killed himself.

Two months later, five people were shot and killed inside a home in Milwaukee in what police described as an act of domestic violence. Christopher Stokes called 911 and told a dispatcher that he had “just massacred my entire family” with a shotgun, according to court records. Stokes has pleaded guilty due to mental illness or deficiency.

In September, seven people were injured when a car pulled up to a crowd of about 100 mourners who gathered for a funeral on the north side of Milwaukee and someone inside the vehicle opened fire.

The victims – three women and four men – survived their injuries. The funeral was for a recent homicide victim.

Mass shooting has typically been defined by the federal government as an incident with four casualties, but other, broader definitions have included shootings with at least four injuries.

The shooting on Friday is also at least the third time that shots have been reported in or around the mall this year.

In February, Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah shot and killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole in the parking lot of the mall after police said Cole fired a shot while running from police. Prosecutors did not charge Mensah in the death of the teenager, and the officer has since signed a separation agreement with the force.

Last month, a person suffered a “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg” in the parking lot during an incident that appeared to be drug-related, according to Tosa police.

The Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa has more than 150 stores and kiosks on two main levels. The mall, originally built in the 1950s, has more than 1 million square feet of retail space. It’s anchored by Macy’s department store at the north end of the mall.

Mayfair is managed by Brookfield Properties, a global real estate company based in New York.

Anyone with information about the shooting should call Wauwatosa Police at (414) 471-8430.

The Milwaukee Violence Prevention Office urged all families in need of counseling for children or teens who were in the mall to contact the Milwaukee Trauma Response Team at (414) 257- 7621.

Elliot Hughes, Ricardo Torres, Evan Casey, Steve Martinez, Sarah Hauer, Chris Kuhagen, Joe Taschler, and Cathy Kozlowicz of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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