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Florida mall shooting: Police hunt for suspect, release photo of person who took hat

Ocala Police Department

(OCALA, Fla.) — Police are looking for a suspect, as well as a bystander who took evidence from the crime scene, after a deadly shooting erupted at a Florida mall during the holiday shopping rush.


One person was killed and another was shot and wounded in the apparent targeted shooting at the Paddock Mall in Ocala Saturday afternoon.

The suspect, 39-year-old Albert J. Shell Jr., is wanted on charges of premeditated first-degree murder and attempted premeditated first-degree murder, police said Sunday.

The slain victim, 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron, was found dead in a common area of the mall when police arrived, authorities said. He is believed to have been the target, Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken said.

A woman was shot and injured and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said. Other injuries stemming from the incident included chest pains and a broken arm, Balken said.

Police issued a statement Sunday urging the person who took the suspect’s red hat from the mall to come forward.

“That hat may contain valuable DNA evidence,” police said. “If you do not return the hat within the next few hours, we will release your picture … and you will be arrested with a felony charge of tampering with evidence.”

The mall, which was packed with shoppers ahead of the holiday, was evacuated after the gunfire broke out.

“This is the worst thing we can imagine right now at this time of the year,” Balken said. “Somebody has suffered a loss in their family. It’s a horrible time of year for this to happen ever. It’s especially sad during the holidays.”

Syriah Williams, 18, told ABC News she was shopping at Bath & Body Works with her mother when she heard several shots ring out and “chaos erupted.”

“The employees opened the back storage area and told everyone to run,” said Williams, who took cover behind the counters at the store.

Ocala Gazette owner Jennifer Hunt Murty told ABC News Radio she was volunteering at a gift-wrapping station when gunfire erupted about 10 feet away from her.

“We dropped to the ground,” she said. “I texted the police chief and said active shooter in the mall, and he responded right away.”

She said she texted the chief where the injured victims were so medics could get to them, and after it seemed safe began interviewing people and taking photos.

“You never know how you’re going to react in those situations, but I went to work,” she said.

Police recovered a gun from the scene believed to have been used in the shooting, Balken said.

The mall will be closed Sunday and Monday.

ABC News’ Layla Ferris contributed to this report.

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