Wauwatosa police arrested a 15-year-old boy from Milwaukee who they said opened fire at the Mayfair mall on Friday afternoon, sending eight to hospital.
Police Chief Barry Weber said the suspect was arrested on Saturday night and that the shooting was the result of a fight between two groups of people in the mall.
“We know there was some disagreement and then the bullets started flying,” Weber said during a Sunday news conference.
Police said on Friday that witnesses described the shooter as a 20- or 30-year-old white man. But Weber identified the suspect as a 15-year-old Spaniard. His firearm was found during his arrest.
Four innocent bystanders were among those who received non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting.
“There were several members of those groups who were injured during this fight,” Wawatosa Police Public Information Officer Abby Pavlik told the two groups involved in the fight.
The teenager left the mall while other patrons ran out, according to Wauwatosa police.
Weber said officers arrived within 30 seconds of the first call to police at 2:49 p.m. The shooting took place near Macy’s in the lower level of the mall.
The officers did not know that the shooter had left the mall when they entered. The shooter left the property on foot, based on video surveillance.
Police say several other arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.
Weber said the initial information provided to the suspect was “wrong.” He said later on Friday night, police began developing guidelines that led them to believe the shooter was younger than initially thought.
Weber said he watched a surveillance video and that helped find the shooter. The police department did not monitor the public when it suspected that the shooter was a minor.
Witnesses at the mall on Friday said they heard multiple gunshots around 3 p.m., sending people fleeing to the exits or other places where they could safely take shelter on the spot. Reporters at the scene and news helicopters filmed at least four people loaded in ambulances in the parking lot.
The mall was closed on Saturday, but reopened at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
A rally for President Donald Trump took place in front of the Mayfair shopping center as it closed on Saturday. Some of the protesters were carrying pistols.
Mayor Dennis McBride said he did not want to hold a rally there so close to the shooting.
“This rally, as I understand it, was planned a week ahead of time. I think it was a pity that they decided to come with what happened the day before,” McBride said.
“I don’t think people should come to Olympic rallies with guns,” he said. “I respect the rights of the First Amendment to everyone for political rallies and protests. If it were up to me, I would say, please don’t come, don’t carry weapons, honor the fact that our community is suffering right now.”
McBride encouraged citizens to continue shopping at the Mayfair mall.
“It’s a safe place,” he said.
“As soon as I leave here, I’m leaving for Mayfair,” McBride told a news conference. “I have no problems shopping at Mayfair. I never had and never will. This is a safe place. The holidays are here and I hope to see you all shopping at Mayfair. “
The mayor said he plans to speak with the CEO of Mayfair on Monday. He wasn’t sure if all the shops were open again.
Evan Casey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia.
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