Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.
NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Some shoppers at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls said they were shot in the mall’s parking lots with BB guns, or possibly pellet guns last week, while they were just trying to make a purchase at a store.
According to the Town of Niagara Police Department’s Facebook page, police are investigating whether the incidents are all part of a nationwide TikTok challenge.
Supervisor Lee Wallace says he’s heard of two or three incidents and that there could possibly be more.
“I know that unfortunately, one of the victims was a woman in a wheelchair and I think her husband was upset and concerned about that,” Wallace said.
According to a Niagara Falls police report, a woman claims she was shot last Thursday night with a BB gun in the Walmart parking lot.
“People are concerned, they’re worried because they’re concerned not to make light about a pellet gun or a BB gun, but they’re worried about a real gun as well,” Wallace said. There have been armed robberies at the Fashion Outlets in the past.
Town of Niagara Police Chief James Suitor tells News 4 that after one of the shootings, there was a wild scene, in which someone followed a car from where shots were fired and ended up getting into a car crash. We’re still awaiting details from the police on whether there were any injuries.
“Please do not chase somebody whether on foot or in a car or however, that would not be a good idea and that’s the last thing we want,” Wallace said.
The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA says in a statement:
“We are aware of the situation, and we have engaged local police authorities to investigate the matter. We are committed to providing a safe, welcoming shopping experience, and this type of activity goes against our code of conduct.”
The mall won’t say whether security has been stepped up. Suitor said police are making progress in the investigation. He added that investigators have obtained video surveillance and that they’ve secured a suspect’s vehicle and are working with the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office to obtain a search warrant for the car.
Town officials say they are looking to stop this behavior as soon as possible.
“We are going to put a stop to it and we’ll punish them to the extend of the law that we can,” Wallace said, “We want people to be able to go out and shop and do what they need to do without fear of being attacked by people, who knows what they’re trying to accomplish, in this day and age, who knows.”
Wallace added that the town is working with Niagara Falls Police on the investigation. But, Falls Police said they have not received any reports at the Fashion Outlets related to these incidents.