OCALA, Fla. – December 24, 2023
In a shocking incident just two days before Christmas, a targeted shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Florida, has left one man dead and a woman injured, according to authorities. Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken addressed the media on Saturday evening, revealing that the victim was fatally shot multiple times in a common area of the mall, situated approximately 80 miles northwest of Orlando. The injured woman suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
The assailant, still at large, fled the scene, abandoning the firearm used in the attack, as confirmed by Chief Balken. Police responded to a call reporting multiple shots fired at the mall, arriving promptly at around 3:40 p.m. However, further investigation revealed that the incident did not qualify as an active shooter situation, according to Balken.
The tragic event resulted in additional injuries among mall patrons, with reports indicating chest pain and a broken arm among those affected by the fallout from the shooting. The overall chaos and panic during the incident led to distressing situations for several individuals within Paddock Mall.
Efforts to obtain information from the mall’s owner, WPG, through an email inquiry, are currently underway. Paddock Mall, home to numerous stores, including major retailers like J.C. Penney and Foot Locker, witnessed a swift evacuation as shoppers grappled with the unfolding tragedy.
Eyewitness accounts from Calvin and Diana Amos, who were inside the J.C. Penney store during the incident, underscore the fear and apprehension that swept through the mall. The couple described evacuating quickly upon realizing the severity of the situation.
As the Ocala community grapples with the aftermath of this tragic event, authorities are actively pursuing leads to apprehend the suspect and provide answers to the grieving community. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of public spaces and the need for continued efforts to ensure the safety and security of all citizens.