A manhunt is underway after a lone gunman opened fire at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington, about 65 miles north of Seattle. The gunman, who disappeared after fatally shooting four women and one man Friday night, entered a Macy's department store with a rifle and opened fire, immediately killing the four women. Skagit County's Public Information Officer Sgt. Mark Francis tweeted a blurry surveillance image of the suspect, but he has still not been identified.
Officials confirmed that four women had died at the scene on Friday night, but a fifth victim, a male, was confirmed dead early Saturday morning after he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to be treated for injuries from the incident, according to a tweet from Francis. The names of the victims have not been released to the public, though at a press conference on Saturday morning, officials said that the ages of the victims ranged from "teen to senior." It is also unclear how many people were wounded in the attack.
As of Saturday morning, the gunman remained at large. Al Jazeera reported that authorities are on the look out for a "Hispanic male wearing grey" who was last seen walking toward a highway near the Cascade Mall. He is believed to be in his 20s or 30s, and was wearing all black, according to statements from officials. The relationship of the gunman and the victims or any possible motive remains unclear at this time. "We are still actively looking for the shooter. Stay indoors, stay secure," Francis advised at a press conference, according to Al Jazeera. Eleven search teams, two K-9 unit, and helicopters are searching the area for the gunman.
Tari Caswell, who was in the women's dressing room at Macy's, told the Skagit Valley Herald that she heard what sounded like "four balloons popping." She continued: "Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn’t feel right. And it got very quiet. And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store."
In a tweet, FBI Seattle confirmed that it would be assisting in the investigation, and that there was "no information to suggest additional attacks planned" in Washington state. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, this is the seventh mass shooting in Washington state in 2016. The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as four or more people being shot, but not necessarily killed, at one time.
As NPR noted, this is the second incident of violence at a U.S. mall within a week. Last Saturday, a man reportedly wearing a private security uniform stabbed nine people in a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, before he was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer. The man in this situation was the only fatality.
Washington officials are expected to continue providing updates as more information comes available.