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BREAKING: Mass Panic in Ballston After Unsubstantiated Report of Active Shooter

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police responded en masse to an incident at the Ballston Quarter mall Saturday night.

In a 8:50 p.m. emergency alert, Arlington County described the incident as a “possible shooting.” Initial reports suggest a panic at the Regal Cinemas movie theater after a group of teens started shouting about an active shooter.

No evidence of a shooting was found, though police continued to search the theater throughout the night.

On Sunday morning, police said one juvenile male shouted about a shooter during a movie, leading to the panic. No shooting actually occurred, police confirmed.

The panic prompted people to flee and hide, though many sheltered in place in the theaters. In the Quarter Market food hall, below the mall, police responded to a report of people who had locked themselves in freezers. Some neighboring businesses including the Shake Shack across the street locked their doors while customers sought shelter.

One person suffered a minor injury as the mall was evacuated, police said.

Speaking to reporters, a group of Yorktown High School students who were watching IT Chapter 2 in the theater said the screen suddenly went blank and officers entered the theater, saying they were investigating a possible active shooter. Video shows the students and other patrons walking out of the theater with their hands above their head, at the direction of police.

“It was scarier than the actual movie,” one teen said.

Another video, taken from across the street from the mall shortly after the initial report of a shooter, shows people running from the mall as sirens blared.

The panic spread as police responded to at least two other reports of armed suspects along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

Around 9:15 p.m., numerous officers responded to the Uncle Julio’s restaurant in Ballston for an unconfirmed report of either a man with a gun or an active shooting. Scanner traffic later suggested that it was actually an angry customer, not a shooting.

Earlier, police also responded to the Clarendon Trader Joe’s for a report of a man with a gun and body armor. A suspect was detained but later released after an investigation determined he was legally open carrying a gun, a police spokeswoman said.

The U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter could be seen flying overhead Ballston during the incident, assisting with the search for any possible suspects, but was later cleared to return to D.C. Park Police, Metro Transit Police, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Police, the Federal Protective Service and Falls Church Police were among the law enforcement agencies that responded to the initial shooting reports with ACPD.

Roads around the mall are blocked by police. Officers have cleared crowds of pedestrians from outside the front of the mall, though many — including large groups of mall employees — were still standing along Wilson Blvd on either side of the mall more than an hour after the first 911 call.

There is no timetable for the mall, its parking garage and the roads around the mall reopening, Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow shortly after 10 p.m., noting that officers were still conducting a “thorough” search of the building.

Video (top) courtesy Gibson L. Video (below) courtesy Naki Mendoza. Screenshot via @JasonSurbey/Twitter.

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