Masked suspect incites panic after making threats at Texas mall, police say

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Monday, August 12, 2019
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Houston police say a male suspect set off firecrackers inside the mall, causing patrons to panic.

HOUSTON, Texas -- Authorities are searching for a person of interest they say sent shoppers into a panic on Sunday in Houston, Texas.

Houston police said it is not an active shooter situation. Authorities had initially said a male suspect set off firecrackers inside the mall, alarming patrons and sending them into a panic. But in an update on twitter, the Houston Police Department said no fireworks were actually discharged.

During a press conference, Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap said surveillance video shows the suspect at 3:12 p.m. going up the escalator to the movie theatre. A few minutes later, the suspect was seen wearing a red half-mask. He took the escalators down to the food court area, where he jumped on a table and declared he was going to take his own life.

"He had something in a bag, and that point he had thrown the bag. At this point we have chaos - people started fleeing. He actually exited out the south entrance and headed in this direction over here towards these apartment complexes," Heap said.

They say the suspect has not been located at this time but have numerous witnesses and will continue to investigate the incident.

WATCH: Authorities release details on incident that sent shoppers into panic at Memorial Mall

According to Houston police, they are investigating this as a terroristic threat.

At least two people were injured during the incident, police say.

"Two injuries that occurred, fairly minor one of them was a 16-year-old boy and his mother. They were taken to the hospital they got caught up in the mass hysteria of the exit. It appears we have a minor ankle or leg injury and the mother was stepped on a few times on her back as she was trying to help her son," said Houston police's Cheryl Victorian.

Authorities say the suspect is described as a white male in his teens or early twenties.

Moments following the scare at Memorial Mall, Houston police responded to reports of shots fired at a Walmart located at the 9400 block of W. Sam Houston Parkway south.

Upon arrival, Houston police said they could not find evidence that indicated shots were fired.

The incidents come just a week following the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The mall will be closed for the remainder of the day.