August 13, 2019 Police in Texas are asking for the public’s help identifying a man believed to have caused a stampede on Sunday at Memorial City Mall in Houston, Texas.
Harris County Constable Ted Heap told reporters that a male suspect, donning a red half mask, came down the escalator and walked into the food court of the shopping mall at about 3:15 p.m. on Sunday. He then jumped on a table in the food court and announced he was going to kill himself. He then threw a bag onto the ground, causing hundreds of panicked shoppers to flee.
Witnesses said they feared the incident was an active shooter situation. A 16-year old boy and his mother were treated for ankle and leg injuries after the chaos, officials said.
Police say the suspect them exited through the south entrance of the mall toward a block of apartment complexes.
Houston Police released a photo of the suspect via Twitter on Tuesday morning. The picture shows the suspect, described as a white male with blond hair in his late teens or early twenties. The man in the photo wore glasses and wore a green T-shirt.
“Have you seen this person? He is wanted for questioning in the incident at Memorial City Mall Sunday afternoon. If you know who he is or his whereabouts, please contact @CrimeStopHOUat 713-222-TIPS. You can remain anonymous. #hounewspic.twitter.com/K6INsjYB4J
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) August 13, 2019“
During a press conference on Tuesday, when asked if the mall incident could have been a prank, Assistant Chief Sheryl Victorian told reporters the incident is being taken very seriously.
“I have no idea if it is a prank or not but it is not a prank to us. This is very serious,” she said. “We are going to treat it as a terroristic threat. Especially on the heels of what is going on around our country and what has recently happened in the state of Texas.”
The suspect still remains at large and could face possible charges of making terroristic threats if apprehended.
Last year, David Ballard, 18, was charged with causing a stampede after pulling out a gun at the Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ballard was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to the mall incident.