4 women killed in shooting at US mall, police launch search for gunman

washington-mall-shooting-ap Law enforcement officers stand in front of the Macy's store at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., where several people were fatally shot, Friday | AP

Four women were killed and a man was critically wounded today in a shooting at a mall in the US state of Washington with the gunman described as a "Hispanic male" still at large.

Police are searching for one shooter and are sweeping stores in the Cascade mall, Sgt Mark Francis said about the shooting in Burlington, about a 100 km north of Seattle.

Authorities said four women were killed in the shooting while a man was critically wounded.

Francis, a spokesman for the state patrol, said the victims were shot in the makeup department of the Macy's store.

"We have one adult male victim from the Burlington mall shooting who arrived by air this evening to Harborview Medical Center at approximately 9:30 PM (local time Friday). He is in critical condition," hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg was quoted as saying by CNN.

Authorities released a surveillance image of the suspect apparently walking through a store and holding a rifle.

Francis said police did not know the gunman's motive. He said the ages of the victims appeared to range from their 20s to elderly, but had no further identifying information.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement that many questions remain but state patrol and local law enforcement are on the scene working swiftly to locate the shooter and clear the area.

"Trudi and I send our condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for anyone injured," Inslee said. "We urge residents to heed all safety and detour 

warnings. Stay close to your friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect's capture."

The FBI's Seattle office announced that it was assisting local investigators with intelligence reviews and manpower.

The bureau said on Twitter that it "has no information to suggest additional attacks planned" in Washington state but did not elaborate.

Tari Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald she was in the Macy's women's dressing room when she heard "what sounded like four balloons popping."

"Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn't feel right. And it got very quiet. And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store," Caswell said.

Authorities also released a photo of a man believed to be the gunman.

"Here is the shooter. We believe just one shooter...Armed with rifle," Francis tweeted. He said police are "actively searching for suspect, tracking leads." 

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