Gunfire report at Fresno’s Fashion Fair mall causes evacuation

Shots were fired Saturday inside Fashion Fair Mall, prompting a rush of people to flee the stores while others hid inside.

Fresno police confirmed the shooting stemmed from a confrontation between a man and a group of men Saturday afternoon.

Police said the scene was not considered an active-shooter situation, even as a search for suspects continued.

“At the time, it appeared to be some sort of a confrontation,” Fresno Police Lt. Andre Benson said. “One male took a fighting stance and a second subject (who was part of the group of males) produced a handgun and began firing multiple rounds at the victim.

“Right now, this is not an active-shooter situation. It was an isolated incident.”

The mall was evacuated following the shooting that occurred just before 4 p.m. and remained closed Saturday night. The mall is expected to reopen Sunday morning.

Shell casings were found inside.

A search for the suspects and any victims included police using helicopters to try to track them down.

Benson said the one group that included the man who fired the gun fled in a black sedan.

Police eventually found the man who was shot at. Deputy Chief Mark Salazar said that man was not struck despite being fired at from close range.

“He didn’t have any wounds,” Salazar said.

Police are still investigating what was said between the two men and if they have any history between each other.

Police used video surveillance at the mall to help determine what occurred.

In hurried escape, one person hurt

When officers arrived on the scene, several people were exiting the mall while others hid inside.

One person was injured during the mad dash to exit, Benson said.

He added that no one appeared to be hit by any bullets. No stores were struck by the gunfire, either.

“It’s a Saturday afternoon,” Benson said. “The mall was filled with people — women, children, people just going about their daily activities and shopping inside the mall.

“As we were clearing the mall, we had multiple families hiding inside dressing rooms, inside bathrooms with their children. So it’s very concerning.”

‘Everyone was panicking’

Fresno resident Selena Avalos was ordering food inside the Cheesecake Factory when she said she noticed several people running outside the mall.

Suddenly, there was a rush of people trying to get inside the restaurant.

Avalos said some girls who managed to get in started screaming to lock the doors just before gunshots could be heard going off.

“Basically, everyone was panicking,” Alavos said. “Everyone was running. People were trying to get in, get safe.

“Very terrifying. I felt like my life was at risk at that moment.”

Social media lit up just before 4 p.m. with accounts of an active shooter inside the mall.

The mall was the scene of a September 2020 incident in which a brief gun battle broke out between a man shopping at a shoe store and another person in a car. No one was injured.

In February, the Chick-fil-A at the mall, filled with customers, was hit by a bullet after a parking lot fight escalated.

Related stories from Fresno Bee

Profile Image of Anthony Galaviz

Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Las Vegas Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.
Support my work with a digital subscription