Police said Tuesday they still had not located a suspect or any victim in a reported shooting at one of the main regional malls serving South Bay holiday shoppers.
The San Jose Police Department received several calls about gunfire that occurred before 6pm at Westfield Oakridge, 925 Blossom Hill Road.
Authorities blocked freeway traffic from accessing the neighborhood and dispatched an all-hands-on-deck response.
Cassie Flores, 17, said it had been a normal weekday inside Journeys, the youth clothing and footwear store where she was working.
Suddenly she saw people outside their doors start running.
“We all just panicked,” she said. “I got really scared.”
The co-workers headed for the back of the store.
“We were in the restroom,” she said, adding the situation was particularly difficult for her friend, who has anxiety.
A man who only wanted to identify himself as Jess said he had come to the mall because his daughter was stuck inside the movie theater.
His wife had received an alert message on her phone about the shooting, so they were worried.
But she’d texted to say she was OK and not to worry about her.
His daughter, a high school sophomore, hid behind the movie screen with fellow moviegoers, he added.
“I’m relieved,” he said.
Police believe at least one film continued playing, despite the chaotic circumstances.
San Jose Fire Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services personnel had all headed to the scene.
Investigators combed through the location’s more than one million square feet of space, as customers sheltered in place, thinking a shooter could still be inside. They didn’t locate a victim.
Anthony Majano, 21, was at the register in the Women’s section of H&M when the shots were heard.
“We heard like four fast pops,” he said, thinking back to the gunfire he at first thought could have been a car noise, or an item crashing down. “I seen people ducking.”
Store staff guided customers to the stockroom, locked the doors and did a headcount to make sure all employees were accounted for.
“At first, in the back it was super frantic,” he said. “We tried our best to calm people down.”
They remained in place for about an hour before being allowed to exit the mall.
Majano stayed in the parking lot, waiting until he could get his vehicle from the parking garage.
With the news that police no longer considered the situation an active shooter response, he said wasn’t worried any more.
“I feel a bit more calm,” he said. “I no longer feel too anxious about it.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call San Jose Police Department’s detective bureau at 408-277-3835.