'Bedlam' in US shopping mall on Christmas eve as man shot dead

Shoppers ran for cover after man shot at close range by gunman

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A shopping mall in Louisiana erupted in bedlam on Christmas Eve after a man was shot dead by a gunman who then fled the scene.

Police said a suspect was in custody after the shooting on Wednesday afternoon at the Oakwood Centre Mall in Gretna. They said it happened when a man had entered the Foot Locker shoe store and made a purchase. After the victim turned from the cash register, a man walked to within three or four feet of him and began shooting.

After the shooting there was “bedlam in the mall”, which was filled with holiday shoppers, said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.

Mr Normand told the Times-Picayune newspaper that the incident happened at around 4.20pm and involved the firing of three shots. No one else was injured in the incident in Gretna, which is located directly south of New Orleans, on the south bank of the Mississippi river.

In the aftermath of the shooting the gunman fled. He was apprehended several streets away the mall and was being questioned, said the sheriff. As of Wednesday evening, no charges had been filed and police were still uncertain as to the motive of the shooting.

The newspaper said that following the shooting, teams of firearms officers patrolled the mall and evacuated shoppers. Outside the Footlocker premises, an employee sat crying and was comforted by an officer.

One family left in tears. “They almost shot us,” one boy said. Another family member said the victim was shot in the face.

Witnesses said the scene was chaotic as people ran from the violence, some jumping over counters and diving for cover. In the food court, chairs were overturned and plastic forks were left in uneaten plates of Chinese food.