LANCASTER, Pa. — A citizen who was legally carrying a weapon and near a shooting is being hailed as a hero after he helped thwart the violence at Park City Center Mall in Lancaster on Sunday.
Police say a 16-year-old pulled out a weapon and started shooting after he was in a fight with another person about 2:30 p.m. As multiple people struggled with the suspect for control of the gun, the armed teen fired on several subjects, striking them.
Police said that the armed bystander engaged the gunman by firing and striking him, WBRC reported.
“The armed bystander then engaged the subjects fighting over the gun and fired shots, striking one of the suspects. The [struggle] ended and the bystander waited at the scene until officers from the Lancaster City Police and Park City Security arrived and took control of the scene,” the Lancaster Bureau of Police said in an update on the shooting, according to Fox News.
Law enforcement authorities said three men and one woman, including the teenage suspect, were treated for gunshot wounds. Moreover, two women were also injured as they sought safety and fled from the mall. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
Hana Ali, the owner of Tabarek International Foods, delayed opening her shop in the mall after Sunday’s shooting of four people. The woman, who is a native of Iraq, says watching the violence unfold in front of her brought back horrible memories.
“It reminds me of the Desert Storm war when I was there. It was awful. The sounds of shooting, it’s really bringing things back to you. It’s so terrifying,” she said.
Ali says she thinks the bystander’s actions made all the difference. She’s afraid the 16-year-old suspect might have continued shooting if the bystander hadn’t stopped the fight.
“I think that helped a lot. He is a good person, I think. I don’t know what he did before, but at that moment, he is the one that should be – he is a hero,” Ali told WBRC.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office is investigating the bystander’s actions. The mall prohibits weapons, and police said the bystander was released after cooperating with authorities, LancasterOnline reported.
Although we’ll never know what would have happened if the “good guy with a gun” wasn’t there, we are certain that no innocent parties died when the gunman was confronted and shot by the armed bystander.
Formal charges against the 16-year-old are pending as the investigation continues.