Violent Christmas shooting in Florida mall claims one life, injures another

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Just around Christmas, Paddock Mall in Ocala, Florida, became the scene of a targeted shooting that left one man dead and a woman injured. Here’s what we know so far about the incident:

In this photo provided by the Ocala Police Department, a cruiser sits parked following a fatal shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.(AP)
In this photo provided by the Ocala Police Department, a cruiser sits parked following a fatal shooting at Paddock Mall in Ocala, Fla., located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.(AP)

On Saturday, around 3:40 p.m., Ocala Police responded to multiple reports of shots fired at Paddock Mall. Contrary to initial fears of an active shooter situation, Police Chief Mike Balken clarified that it appeared to be a targeted attack in a common area.

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“Officers immediately made entry into the mall (and) ultimately discovered that this was not what we would consider an active shooter,” said Mike Balken.

The deceased victim was identified as 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron, shot multiple times. A woman suffered a gunshot wound to her leg but is expected to survive. Additionally, several others sustained injuries, including chest pain and a broken arm, during the chaotic aftermath.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and we are committed to bringing the perpetrator to justice,” said the Ocala Police Department.

Suspect on the run

The alleged shooter, described as a male in a black hoodie, black pants, and a partially covered face, fled the scene. Authorities released a photo collage of a “person of interest” and urged the public to assist in identification. If you recognize this person, please call Detective Boyer at 352-369-7000 or submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.”

The mall lockdown

Following the incident, the mall remains closed, with the parking lot reopened. The police have conducted a secondary sweep, and investigations are ongoing. The duration of the lockdown is uncertain at this time.

Eyewitnesses their harrowing experiences of evacuation and fear. Syriah Williams, who was inside Bath & Body Works at the time of the shooting said, “The employees opened the back storage area and told everyone to run.”

Law enforcement agencies, including the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, fire rescue teams, and the Florida Highway Patrol, swiftly responded to the scene. The police recovered the firearm used in the shooting but did not disclose its type. “It’s the worst. The worst thing we can imagine right now at this time of the year. Somebody has suffered a loss in their family,” Mike Balken said.

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