Nightly News   |  January 25, 2014

Three Dead in Mall Shooting

A shooting at a shopping mall outside of Baltimore kills three and has police searching for a motive.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to the mall, the rite of weekends for millions of americans turned into a terrible ordeal today for shoppers in a mall in suburban maryland when gunshots rang out. police describe him as a lone shooter, producing a rifle inside a store. witnesses say shoppers ran for safety, some making their way out. others hiding in the mall for hours. when it was over, three people lay dead, including, police believe, the attacker. it happened in columbia, maryland , an hour's drive from washington, d.c. and baltimore, nbc's kristen welker is there with more.

>> reporter: lester, good evening to you, this community has been deeply shaken by this apparent murder-suicide, and police are scanning the area by video and all those who witnessed the terror that unfolded here.

>> we have an active shooter at the columbia mall , last seen in the food court . kids are hiding in the bathroom.

>> reporter: 911 calls captured the terror as gunshots rang out this morning at a suburban mall in columbia , maryland , about 25 miles north of washington, witnesses saw.

>> we thought we were going to get shot.

>> all of a sudden, people started to run by, we heard two gunshots.

>> police say it happened after

1: 1:01 in the morning.

>> and then i heard boom, boom, boom, people started screaming and running. it was just complete madness .

>> reporter: according to police , some fled the mall, others sheltered in place.

>> there was a young couple with two brand-new babyies, so we have like a rest room at the end in the store room. so everybody, as many people as we could fit in there.

>> i ran into the store across from the mania. we all hid ourselves in the back room and locked the door. and we were in there for probably about an hour, hour and a half.

>> reporter: police say it took them two minutes to respond to the multiple calls that came in. once on scene, authorities found three bodies at a skate shop. among the dead, a male and females. both store employees in their 20s, and a second male, believed to be the shooter.

>> the identity of the shooter, we don't know who that is yet. when the officers approached he was obviously deceased. but he was also still -- had a large amount of ammunition on and about him.

>> reporter: law enforcement officials say early indications were that the gunman may have known at least one of the victims.

>> it could be that it is a domestic situation. but somebody has reported from a federal law enforcement source that is what it is. but i'm telling you we can't confirm that. we simply don't know.

>> reporter: local state and federal authorities worked through the afternoon evacuating the mall, searching the parking lot and interviewing witnesses trying to determine what could have caused yet another senseless shooting.

>> life is short and treasure every day you have, treasure your family.

>> reporter: now, police have also identified the victims tonight as brianna banolo, 21 years old of college park , maryland . tyler johnson , 25 years old, from maryland , they have not yet identified the shooter. five people were also injured this morning including one person shot in the foot. they have all been treated and released. this mall will remain closed while police continue their investigation. lester?