CHICAGO (CBS) — An SUV smashed into Woodfield Mall and drove down the main hallway, slamming into a kiosk and stores, sending panicked shoppers scrambling for safety on Friday afternoon.
Schaumburg police have one person in custody but are not releasing his name until charges, if any, are authorized. There is no indication the incident is related to terrorism or that the man was working with anyone else, but police would not comment on a possible motive. Police said there was no indication the driver was angry or had any reason to target the mall, but he was walking in the mall before the incident.
They are investigating whether “some type of medical issue” was involved.
The Chevy Trailblazer drove through an entrance at the Sears store on the southeast corner and then continued into the interior of the mall. A Schaumburg police official says no shots were fired, although there were initial reports of an active shooter. The driver was taken into custody.
Almost immediately, video on social media showed the SUV driving into the mall. The user said, “This is not happening right now!”
So this just happened at Woodfield. I’m safe. Jesus Christ pic.twitter.com/fOfhtPkWvr
— ronin (@nipsfalloff) September 20, 2019
A witness, Jason, was ordering ice cream when he saw the car only a few feet away, moving erratically. He told his wife to get into the nearby Starbucks, and he ran to the SUV, which had crashed into a pole. He opened the door and took the keys out of the ignition.
#BREAKING: A man behind the wheel of a black SUV drove through Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg Friday afternoon.
He drove through Sears & damaged several other stores including Forever 21 & Hollister.
Driver in police custody.@cbschicago
Photo Courtesy: Nik Farooqui pic.twitter.com/L5GoDk7WHH
— Eric Cox (@EricCoxTV) September 20, 2019
He said the driver was young and appeared “dazed and confused.” At that point, police were able to take the driver into custody.
“He seemed to be trying to get as far as he could,” Jason said.
He and his wife got out of the mall and will be flying out of O’Hare airport to go home.
A view from inside the Sears showed the damage to the entrace and clothing displays strewn about the store.
Some of the destruction at the Sears Woodfield store… pic.twitter.com/jGSH1ZnMQk
— Mike (@MrRunningJokes) September 20, 2019
Lori Halfman was in the Sears store when the car crashed through the door. “It was very scary. I didn’t know what was happening. A worker starting yelling, ‘Everybody evacuate.'”
Another witness said the SUV almost hit “a bunch of kids” near the Rain Forest Cafe.
Witness Lateef Farooqui told CBS 2 that he was on the second floor when he saw a Chevy Trailblazer driving down the center of the mall “like you would a shopping cart.”
The driver appeared to be younger, Farooqui said. He drove over a kiosk and then hit the Forever 21. He then ran out of the SUV and was caught by police.
Photos provided to CBS 2 show people sheltering in the H&M store.
The owner of the Baskin Robbins ice cream store, Roger Thacker, was standing behind the counter when he heard a bang, which he believed was the SUV driving in the mall.
At the H&M about 35 people were sheltering inside and were not harmed.
“It was terrifying. It sounded like gunshots,” said one shopper, who took shelter at the H&M store.
Abram Taylor was near the Forever 21 store, “I heard a loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.The SUV was coming right for me. There were parents, kids families were screaming and crying.” Taylor then shook his head, “Man.”
The chaos had a ripple effect with all of the office buildings and out lots nearby and created traffic issues for several hours. The mall remained closed for the night, something some shoppers discovered as they arrived Friday evening, unaware of that had happened earliers.
The FBI’s Chicago office said it is aware of the incident and is assisting local law enforcement as requested. There is no threat to public safety, the FBI said.
Schaumburg police said there were no significant injuries. Some people suffered minor cuts and bruises. There were three medical transports, but all were for “very minor injuries,” according to police.
The driver is not from Schaumburg but is from the northwest suburbs, and according to police, they have no record of any contact with him in the past.
Building inspectors checked the mall, and there was no major structural damage, police said.
The mall was still closed Friday night but was expected to reopen Saturday morning.