AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police said a robbery at a jewelry store inside the Barton Creek Mall Saturday night led shoppers to mistake the sound of smashed jewelry cases for gunfire, prompting a chaotic scene and people running for safety.
Police said the robbery happened at the mall’s Helzberg Diamonds store, which may have involved three suspects smashing the glass and taking several items. Officers have yet to make any arrests, though they are reviewing security camera footage to develop suspects and gather more information.
Police said they got the initial call about the robbery at about 8:33 p.m. Saturday, but that response escalated when someone else reported seeing a gun in the mall. First responders surged resources to the building, leading them to activate their “active attack” plan. They also evacuated the mall as a precaution after chaotic scenes of people running from the building because of the reported gunfire.
However, police said they located no victims after their search nor found evidence of a gun being seen or fired.
Austin police posted on social media that Barton Creek Mall has now been “cleared and is safe.” Police also shared that anyone still inside the mall can now come out and exit safely.
Video shared with KXAN from the Twisted Cork Wine Bar showed the moments when dozens of people started running quickly through the mall.
Outside the mall, Marco Chavez told KXAN that he did not hear any gunshots, but saw people running inside. He described what happened as “traumatizing” and “very scary.”
“I just ran inside a store, and they let us inside,” Chavez said. “We just stayed there, and we were in lockdown for a bit.”
Another witness, Luis Santana, said he and his mother sat down to eat dinner at the mall when they started seeing people sprinting through the building. He said they began running, too, after hearing a woman scream, “Run! There’s a shooter!”
Santana said they hid in the back of a mall store with employees who shepherded them to safety before police arrived to tell them to leave the building.
“It’s terrifying. I never expected to be in this. I’m speechless,” Santana said.
Police are asking anyone who may have gotten video of the Helzberg Diamonds store when the robbery happened to please contact the department.
Police also said the mall is closed for the evening and will reopen Sunday.