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Stampede in Texas mall after masked man throws object and incites panic

Dozens of people returned to a Houston shopping mall on Monday to retrieve the items they left behind after a shooting scare over the weekend.

Chaos ensued at the Memorial City Mall when it initially appeared there was an active shooter, as a masked man jumped on a table in the food court and proclaimed he was going to kill himself before throwing down an unknown object.

The incident took place Sunday around 3:15 p.m. and resulted in hundreds of panicked people fleeing, with several suffering minor injuries in the crowd.

“It was too much frenzy, too much panic,” said John Delva, who works at the mall.

Houston police said they were still searching for the masked man on Monday; he was described as a white male in his late teens or early twenties.

“We don’t take this type of thing lightly,” said Assistant police chief Sheryl Victorian, who indicated the man could face a terroristic threats charge.

“We had an explosive detection dog … come out and check the evidence that the suspect dropped on the scene. In the end there was no evidence of an explosive device … we have not determined exactly what that item is,” Victorian continued.

The incident comes after a shooter killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso on Aug. 3, which was followed hours later by a shooting in an Ohio entertainment district that left nine dead.

In the aftermath of those shootings, there have been multiple incidents of the public panicking over a possible threat.

Just last week, thousands of people who were crowded into New York’s packed Times Square fled in panic after a motorcycle backfired and caused fears over a possible active shooter.

Constable Ted Heap of the Houston Police Department suggested that it was challenging for law enforcement to deal with these kinds of incidents.

“Our job is to keep people safe and to neutralize any threat. We’ve got uniforms from a lot of different agencies — federal agencies, state, local agencies, county, city — so there’s a lot of police officers involved here who have joined together to try to be sure that this is a safe scene,” Heap said.

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