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WEST TOWNE

Stores closed their metal gates with shoppers inside after shots were reportedly fired outside West Towne Mall shorty after 5:30 p.m. Saturday. No injuries were reported. 

West Towne Mall closed Saturday after shots were fired outside, Madison police said. No injuries were reported.

2nd shooting reported

Later Saturday, Madison police were investigating a second shooting reported just before 10:30 p.m. in the 5800 block of Russett Road, according to the 911 center. No other details were immediately available.

Officers were called to West Towne about just before 5:40 p.m.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said at least one person fired a handgun outside the food court after a dispute involving a small group of people began inside the mall, then moved outdoors, where at least two people became involved in a physical fight.

After firing the gun outside the food court, DeSpain said, the shooter fled in the direction of the J.C. Penney store, where more casings were found outside.

“Obviously, there was great danger to anyone who was driving in the lot, eating in a restaurant or shopping in the mall,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain said police do not believe shots were fired inside the mall. But based on an erroneous report that a shot had been fired inside the mall, he said, “We went into active-shooter mode and the mall went into lockdown.”

A shopper said a S.W.A.T. team came into the mall with guns drawn as people rushed to leave. Another said stores closed their metal gates and shoppers were asked to remain inside while police went through the mall.

Sue Dyhr of Oregon was shopping at Boston Store and said shoppers were told to gather near the middle of the store.

Police began clearing out the mall around 6:30 p.m. Shoppers in smaller stores without outside exits were escorted out by police.

The mall closed for the rest of the night, DeSpain said.

Police said they believe the shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute.

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