A shoplifter running from authorities at a Long Island mall knocked over a display case, causing a loud noise that some shoppers and employees mistook for gunshots, creating pandemonium in the shopping center on one of the busiest days of the year, police said.
Witnesses said some shoppers and employees ran into bathrooms for cover and barricaded themselves in stores when they heard the sound, but police confirmed no shots were fired during the confusion at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City Tuesday afternoon.
Joe Koka was shopping at the mall when he heard the noise. Then, he saw dozens of people running his way and ducked inside a shoe store as a clerk pulled down a gate.
"There was mass confusion," Koka said. "It was all these people running."
Three people suffered minor injuries in the chaos, police said.
The shoplifting suspect, 19-year-old Aaron Darby, was being taken into custody near Macy's when some mannequins and other display items were knocked over in the men's department, the store said.
Darby was charged with petit larceny and released on a desk appearance ticket, authorities said.
The mall was shut down for about 15 minutes as a precaution during the havoc that ensued when he knocked over the case.
In September, the mall was put on lockdown after a man shot two people, one of them fatally, in an office building across the street.