Woman incites mass panic about 'shooter' inside Aventura Mall, police say
Police: Woman started screaming on phone after witnessing felony traffic stop
AVENTURA, Fla. – Aventura police are now explaining how a felony traffic stop led to multiple reports of an active shooter mowing down victims inside the Aventura Mall.
The incident happened two days before Christmas last year as thousands of last-minute shoppers were buying gifts.
Police said they suddenly began receiving multiple reports of an active shooter inside the mall, prompting a massive police response that some believe could have been avoided with a little common sense.
Dashboard camera footage captured the tense moments during the traffic stop.
With guns drawn, officers surround a stolen sedan, which police had been searching for following a violent carjacking.
As police took the teenage suspects into custody, multiple reports of an active shooter started pouring in.
Large crowds of panicked shoppers were seen running outside the mall.
Those who couldn't get out quickly took cover behind registers and inside dressing rooms.
There was more chaos and confusion outside, as shoppers were running in every direction.
One responding officer attempted to navigate through the clogged streets when a shopper was nearly hit.
"Hey! Calm down! Calm down!" officers shouted at shoppers.
Officers locked down the mall while the SWAT team searched for a shooter.
The all-clear was given after two hours.
Police said no shooter was found and there was nobody injured inside the mall.
In fact, police said the incident started when a shopper became frightened after witnessing the traffic stop.
But instead of speaking with officers, the woman ran into the mall, "got on her cellphone and began shouting, which was seen and heard by numerous mall patrons, which caused a mass panic," a police report stated.
The report pointed out that officers and shoppers who thought they were hearing gunshots were actually hearing the sound of metal gates that were pulled down to protect those hiding in stores.
Police did not identify the woman who caused the panic.
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