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No suspects located yet in Lehigh Valley mall shooting incident

Whitehall Township Police said Monday they still have no suspects in the shooting incident at Lehigh Valley Mall late Saturday afternoon.

Police were called just before 5 p.m. after shots were fired in the vicinity of Modell’s Sporting Goods and J.C. Penney stores. No one was injured.

Chief Michael Marks issued a news release Monday saying, “Suspects were not located after an extensive search of the mall property.”

Marks said police found three spent 9 mm shell casings on the floor outside Modell’s store.

“Multiple witnesses were interviewed but there is still no clear and concise description of the suspects.”

Police are reviewing individual surveillance recordings from the mall stores, and are asking anyone who has cellphone video from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Saturday to contact Matthew Reszek at 610-437-3042.

More than 40 police agencies and first responders were on scene Saturday night assisting including Slatington Police, Pennsylvania State Police Troop M, state police emergency response teams, Allentown Fire Department Bomb Squad, Lehigh County Special Operations/Drone and the FBI in Allentown.

Bowmanstown resident Tonia Smale-Lorenzo said Saturday night that the mall should update its Wi-Fi and cellphone capabilities. She was sheltered in place with her 4-year-old daughter and had no cell service.

As police were clearing people, one store at a time, Smale-Lorenzo said there was a straggler from J.C. Penney.

“She was by herself and without cell service, no one could tell people where they were.”

Palmerton Realtor Cass Chies agreed about the cellphone issue, but also was concerned about the lack of communication overall. She was sheltered in place in a nail salon outside Boscov’s.

“Honestly, there was no information from responsible party during this entire event. Any information was coming in from cellphones of people who knew they were working there, or even my daughter who had a scanner. And even that info was incorrect,” said Chies, who worked at Freeman Jewelers at the mall from 1991 through 2005.

“One moment we’re being told the shooter was held in J.C. Penney, then it was they have him surrounded at Claire’s, then it changed again. Then you would hear screams! We’re thinking is someone hurt?

“Then you would see a few mall shoppers casually walking, even one coming up the escalator drinking coffee. After a while two of the employees with the salon that I was at walked out on their own to investigate, and after a few moments came back without seeing anything.”

She said after 15 minutes she saw officers with guns and dogs canvassing the second floor.

“Finally, two officers came to salon, knocked on the glass door, asked if we were told to stay here, which we replied no, and they said we need to leave as they were evacuating the building and escorted us out,” Chies said.

Emergency vehicles are parked in the Lehigh Valley Mall after a shooting incident Saturday. SCOTT M. NAGY PHOTO/SPECIAL TO THE LEHIGH VALLEY PRESS