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Gunfire at N.Y. mall starts panic



Published: Mon, February 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Best Buy workers tackled the gunman.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

KINGSTON, N.Y. -- A gunman dressed in black opened fire inside an upstate shopping mall Sunday, wounding an Army recruiter and sending hundreds of panicked shoppers running for their lives, officials said.

A quiet Sunday at the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston turned into chaos about 3 p.m. when the crackle of gunfire sounded from the suspect's AK-47 assault rifle inside a Best Buy store.

"He was just squeezing off shots. He had two banana clips. When they were all done, he threw the gun down and surrendered to me," said Patrick McNamara, 45, a mall janitor.

The Army recruiter, who had a table set up at the mall, was shot in the leg, police said. There was no indication he was targeted, said Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, a National Guard spokesman.

Another person suffered a cut hand when hit by flying glass, police said.

The gunman, whose name was not immediately released, ran out of Best Buy, firing wildly as he approached McNamara, hiding behind his pushcart in the mall's center court.

When the shooter ran out of ammunition, he walked up to the shaking cleaner.

"He put his arms up in the air and said, 'Do what you have to do,'" said McNamara. "I said, 'OK, let's go to the security office.'"

Apprehended

Then workers from Best Buy came running out of the store and tackled the gunman, McNamara said.

"He seemed mentally disturbed," he said, adding that the man was wearing baggy black pants and a black shirt.

Ulster Town Supervisor Fred Wadnola said the gunman, who was from nearby Saugerties, was armed with an AK-47. "It's shocking that it happened," Wadnola said.

Amy Blagbrough, 34, owner of Technical Support Systems in the mall, said terrified shoppers ran into her store looking for cover.

"We all hid in the back and called 911. They told us it wasn't safe to come out, so just stay put," she said.

Blagbrough, her 15-year-old son, Christopher, and about 10 frightened shoppers hid in the back of her store for about four hours until police officers -- who had surrounded the mall -- told them it was safe to come out.

"It was just crazy," she said. "Everybody was in a panic."




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