by: Frank Field Updated:
EVERETT, Wash. - An alleged shoplifter at the Everett Mall pulled and fired a gun Tuesday night when store security at Macy's tried to stop him.
No one was hurt, but the shot sent frenzied shoppers and employees scurrying.
The suspect, 26-year-old Charles Sprague of Everett, was battered, bruised and missing a front tooth after the fight with store security around 5:45 p.m. Police said Sprague fired one shot during the scuffle that sent shoppers and workers running for cover.
Ron Detrick was on his way into the Everett Mall when he saw people flooding out the doors. He hid his family in a nearby business.
"One lady that talked to us said that she sought shelter in a changing room and put her feet up for a while and someone yelled, ‘Let's get out of here,’ and so she felt it was safe enough to get out," Detrick said.
The shot didn't hit anyone, but police shut down the store and sent employees to huddle outside while they scoured the mall inside and out, looking for other victims or suspects.
Confused shoppers worried for their safety.
"It is kind of scary when you come out and there's helicopters all over and cop cars everywhere and you don't know," said Debbie McGuire, of Everett, as she drove out of the mall.
Police recovered the bullet and the gun, but are still trying to find a woman who was near the suspect before he was confronted. She left the store during the scuffle and police aren't sure if she was involved or just a bystander. Police say it's unusual for store security to confront someone who has a gun.
"There's always risk associated with that when you are contacting someone unknown to you. In this case, it worked out well. It could very well have not worked out so well," said Everett Police Department officer Aaron Snell.
Sprague was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries he received in the fight with store security and then booked into the Snohomish County Jail.
He’s expected to be in court on charges of robbery, assault and possession of a firearm Wednesday afternoon.