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After Mall Shooting Kills 5, Police On The Hunt For The Gunman

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to turn now to another developing story in the suburbs of Seattle. Police are still searching for a gunman who walked into Macy's last night in a shopping mall in Burlington, Wash., and killed four women and a man. A manhunt is underway for the shooter, police said, in a press conference earlier today. Ross Reynolds from member station KUOW went to that press conference, and he's with us now from Burlington. Ross, thank you so much for joining us.

ROSS REYNOLDS, BYLINE: Good afternoon.

MARTIN: So Ross, what can you tell us about the suspect?

REYNOLDS: They say the suspect is in his late teens or early 20s. He came in in a black T-shirt and black shorts. They described him as Hispanic. And when I asked why they had that descriptor, they said, well, just from these pictures. They have found no one to talk to who recognized this person. So it is an unidentified person who went in, shot five people to death and then walked out and vanished into the night.

MARTIN: I understand that the police are saying he did not appear to have the gun with him when he first entered the mall.

REYNOLDS: This is an interesting aspect of this. They have photos of him entering the mall without the gun. Ten minutes later, he was in that Macy's at the cosmetics counter and killing five people.

MARTIN: Can you tell us any more about what steps authorities are taking to find this person?

REYNOLDS: They're hoping for some help from the public by putting out pictures of this individual when he was at the mall. They're hoping someone's going to recognize him and provide them with some clues. But it's been kind of radio silence since this morning here. They're obviously working on the case.

Meanwhile, the entire mall has been shut down until pretty late this afternoon. Everyone who was in the mall - a very large 400,000-square-foot mall - had to leave their automobiles. Just this afternoon they were able to come pick them up and take them away. They have not identified the victims yet, either. So it's a little hard to figure out what the connection may have been between the shooter and those people.

MARTIN: If any, if any. Can I ask you, Ross, though, how - I understand this is a developing story and you've been following this, you know, all day, since it occurred. But how are people reacting to this? I mean, you can't help but recall that this happened - there was another attack on a mall in Minnesota just a few days ago. Circumstances are different that in that case the assailant was killed by an off-duty police officer who was at the mall, and his motivation seems to have been one connected to politics. But does the - does that - is that hanging over the - is that hanging over people there? Are people thinking about that?

REYNOLDS: It certainly is. Across the street from the mall where the shooting took place, I went to a grocery store that was actually quite lively. Boy Scouts were selling popcorn in the front lobby. And the people I spoke to were just shocked that this could happen in the small town of Burlington. They said - a couple of people said to me, it seems like kids just don't value life. And you can leave home and not know if you're going to return.

So there was just a lot of concern about it. Also some questions about the police department's actions. One person said, there was a police department right over here. Why weren't they there quicker? And another person said to me, no, no, no, this happened so fast. The police did not have time to jump in and do anything to stop it.

MARTIN: That's Ross Reynolds from member station KUOW. Ross, thanks so much for joining us.

REYNOLDS: You're so welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.