Gun shots fired in The Shops at Mission Viejo
Man tried to rob store, was shot by deputies, authorities say.
A gunman opened fire at The Shops of Mission Viejo this afternoon and was shot by sheriff's deputies.
Lt. Dan Dwyer of the Sheriff's Department says deputies responded to a robbery in progress at a jewelry store at about 5:30 p.m.
One person who called police said the man took two women hostage, and that gunfire could be heard inside the mall. The man was said to have fled to the parking structure near Nordstrom, where shots were exchanged.
No one else was hurt.
Amateur photographer Tom Ferris of Ladera Ranch shot photos at the scene. He talked to shoppers who told him and reporters that they saw a man in what appeared to be a wig breaking the glass cases at the Fredric Rubel jewelry store and stuffing the contents into a bag.
They said they also saw him take two women into the back of the store, apparently as hostages. When he returned to the front of the store, he pulled out a gun, and onlookers screamed.
Ferris, 29, said one woman told him, "It just didn't seem real … but once they saw the gun, everybody just screamed and kinda ran in all directions.''
He said it seemed surreal to see deputies with M-16s converge on his local mall.
"I've lived in Mission Viejo for many years, and to see something like this at the mall I go to all the time, it's a shocker,'' he said. "It just goes to show this kind of thing can happen anymore.''
Miguel Cruz was in the mall with his two children just outside of Nordstrom when he saw the gunman in a common area of the mall, pointing his gun around. He was just about 20 feet away.
"My wife said two weeks ago a guy (in the news) was shooting up a mall, so I'm thinking about that, and I take my kids around the other way,'' Cruz, a San Juan Capistrano resident, said.
Cruz said security guards chased the man through the mall. He said he heard no shots fired inside the mall.
Some shoppers who parked in the garage where the shooting happened have been kept from entering the structure to get their cars. No word yet on when they will be able to.
Mission Viejo is regularly ranked among America's safest cities when annual national crime statistics are released.
More details and video to come.