updated 11/19/2006 1:25:37 AM ET 2006-11-19T06:25:37

An off-duty Secret Service agent was shot after intervening in a fight in a shopping mall food court Saturday evening, and he returned fire, wounding the shooter, police said.

A third person was also shot in the melee, and all were hospitalized in stable condition late Saturday, said Officer Sara Schriver, an Anne Arundel County police spokeswoman.

The agent was at the Westfield Annapolis mall with his family shortly after 7 p.m. when he saw a group of men attacking another man, Schriver said.

“They all just started attacking one individual ... physically assaulting him, punching him,” she said.

The agent tried to break up the fight, and someone in the group drew a gun and started firing, she said.

“He ran across the food court with his gun and was shooting at people,” witness Lindsay Busch told WJZ-TV.

After the agent was shot, he drew his handgun and returned fire, wounding the shooter, police said. A third person was shot during the gunfight, but it was not clear who shot that person, Schriver said.

The agent and the shooter were flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. The third victim was driven to a local hospital.

Their identities were not released.

Dozens of people witnessed what Schriver characterized as “a very traumatic and terrorizing incident.”

“We had families there and juveniles, (a) typical Saturday night for you at the mall,” she said.

Video surveillance footage of the scene was turned over to police, said Scott deGraffenreid, the mall’s marketing director. He said mall management would not comment on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

Ray Leone, manager of the Borders Books & Music across from the food court, said he heard at least 10 gunshots, and dozens of people ran into his store in a panic.

“It’s really not very normal, way out of the commonplace,” he said.

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