Deputies: Thief opens fire inside Citrus Park mall

- A shooting at a Hillsborough County mall put the entire building on lockdown Monday evening.

It happened at Westfield Citrus Park Town Center and fortunately, no one was hurt during the incident.

Shoppers, frightened and confused, found themselves locked in around 6:30 p.m.

"We turned around and the door was closed, and they were telling you need to get down," said Jeffrey Castillo.

Castillo and Ashley McCormack were inside GameStop when the mall turned into a crime scene.

"They didn't tell us what was going on, but we could kind of tell from the announcements," McCormack said.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, a man stole a piece of jewelry from a Meher Jewelers kiosk.

When an employee chased after the suspect, deputies said the man turned and fired at least one round at the employee.

But that wasn't enough to end the pursuit. The employee then chased the robber all the way to the parking lot, where, after a struggle, he was able to get the stolen jewelry back.

"It was good that no one was injured, but how far would you go for a chain, is what comes to my mind," said McCormack.

"I was never really worried but in the back of my mind I was like, 'What if he comes in here?'" Castillo said.

The suspect got away in a car before deputies got to the mall and gave the "all clear."

As customers trickled out, crime scene tape closed off the area where at least one bullet could have turned a robbery into a senseless killing.

"I think it's a horrific event," said McCormack. "But as long as no one was injured, that is the most important thing."

Deputies say the suspect is described as a white male, 20-25 years of age, 6' to 6'3" with a medium build.  He has brown hair, eye glasses, and was last seen wearing a white long sleeve shirt with green sleeves, and khaki shorts.

He possibly fled in a beige or white Hyundai Elantra.

If you know anything about the suspect in this case, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
 

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