Dolphin Mall and the surrounding neighborhood turned into a chaotic mess Saturday night when word began to spread that there was an active shooter on the premises.
Hundreds of shoppers and their kids were either stuck inside locked-up stores or had fled outside as police from three local agencies flooded the mall and the streets around it searching for evidence of gunfire. They found none, according to police sources.
The streets around the mall were locked in gridlock as people scrambled. Dozens of cellphone videos showed people running and police sirens blaring.
In the end, it might have just been some type of loud noise that someone mistook for gunfire.
“As we were walking to the [parking garage] everyone just started running,” said Alois Mangwende, a tourist from London, who was in the Polo Ralph Lauren store when he noticed the staff was closing the doors. “No one really knew if it was a gunshot or if a bomb went off.”
Dolphin Mall is under lockdown because of reports of a shooting. Miami-Dade police said that, despite earlier reports, they could not confirm if shots were fired.
Several law enforcement sources say they found nothing at the scene — no one injured, no shooter or bullets.
Andrea Piccardo was watching the movie Atomic Blonde inside the mall’s movie theater when an emergency message came over the PA system.
She and her friend starting running and described the situation as chaotic.
“I just sort of figured it might be a shooter,” Piccardo said. “If people are running that fast there must be someone right behind us.”
Piccardo said she never actually saw the gunman herself but rushed for the exits amid a crowd of people who abandoned strollers and bags as they ran.
She said traffic was mostly at a standstill as she left the parking lot at the mall located at 11401 NW 12th St.
Miami-Dade police has taken over the investigation from the Sweetwater police department. The Florida Highway Patrol and the City of Doral Police Department were on the scene providing assistance as well. Because it is an active investigation, police are asking people to avoid the area.
Shoppers in and around the area had indicated on social media that a shooting had apparently taken place near Bass Pro Shops, but no one was saying that they saw a shooter or heard shots.
Shoppers left the mall with their hands raised up and others carrying their bags and stood outside the various entrances to the mall.
Alois Mangwende, a tourist from London, said he was in the Polo Ralph Lauren store when he noticed the staff was closing the doors. He noticed other stores doing the same and then people starting leaving the mall in waves.
“As we were walking to the [parking garage] everyone just started running,” Mangwende said.
He said that after about 15 or 20 minutes things seemed calm and he made his way outside the mall.
“No one really knew if it was a gunshot or if a bomb went off,” Mangwende said. “This wasn’t in my thought process when I came to Miami.”
Caroline Madera, 36, of Kendall was back-to-school shopping at the Burlington store with her two daughters when she saw people running.
“People were running from the mall into the store. … we were able to get out before they locked us in,” she said.