MORENO VALLEY: Investigation underway after shots fired inside busy mall

MORENO VALLEY — Authorities are investigating a fight that ended with shots being fired inside the Moreno Valley Mall at 22500 Town Circle, Thursday morning, Feb. 8. Although no one was reportedly struck by the gunfire, the incident caused the mall to go onto lock down while officials searched the entire location for victims, suspects or witnesses related to the shooting.

Sheriffs officials and other emergency first responders converged on the mall after the shooting was reported.Timothy Franseze/Public Safety Incidents photo

Moreno Valley PD officials are now asking for the public’s help identifying those involved in the incident.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Moreno Valley Police Station and other emergency first responders rushed to the mall just after 11:40 a.m., after emergency dispatchers received numerous 911 calls reporting a possible active shooter at the location.

Deputies and medical personnel began arriving within minutes of the dispatched call and immediately began securing the scene, Deputy Mike Vasquez later explained.

With 911 calls still pouring in, officials called for the entire mall to be locked down and ordered mall employees and patrons to shelter in place wherever they were while they searched the entire mall, both inside and out.

“Officers began a systematic search of the facility, searching for possible victims, suspects or involved parties,” Vasquez explained. “After a thorough search, officers lifted the lock down. No suspects or victims were located.”

While deputies and other law enforcement officials searched the mall and investigated the shooting, Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters and other medical personnel established a triage area, laying out different colored tarps where potential victims could be brought, evaluated and treated.

Fortunately, the triage area was not needed, as officials found no victims or anyone injured related to the incident.

As their investigation continued and officials continued to converge on the scene, deputies and investigators interviewed witnesses and reviewed mall security footage that indicated the incident began as a fight between individuals some witnesses described as “gang members.”

As the investigation was getting under way, firefighters and other medical personnel established a triage area for potential victims. Miguel Shannon/OCHawk photo

According to official and witness statements, the fight and subsequent shooting happened  on the mall’s lower level near Victoria’s Secrets. Some witnesses reported hearing two shots fired; however, officials have not yet specified or confirmed how many rounds were fired.

“At this time, the investigation revealed several unknown race males were involved in a physical altercation near the north entrance of the mall,” said Vasquez. “The discharging of the firearm was a result of the altercation.”

After the shooting, those involved in the fight fled the location and were not immediately located or identified by deputies, according to Vasquez, who explained the Sheriff’s investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Moreno Valley PD at (951) 486-6700 or (951) 776-1099. Callers can refer to incident file number MV180390040 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

This is a developing story that will be update when new information is available.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.

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