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3 people injured in Thursday shooting at Grande Prairie mall

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WATCH ABOVE: Grande Prairie RCMP are investigating after a man opened fire inside a shopping mall Thursday. A single shot injured three people including a mother and father walking with their children. Shallima Maharaj has the latest – Sep 16, 2016

Three people, including two innocent bystanders, were rushed to hospital Thursday afternoon after a shooting at a shopping mall in Grande Prairie.

“We heard shots fired. I didn’t think it could be a gunshot, like, come on, it’s Grande Prairie mall,” Elizabeth Austin, who works at mall, said.

According to police, a single shot was fired at the Prairie Mall at around 5 p.m. They said when officers arrived, they learned two groups of males had a fight in the food court of the mall and one man was shot. He was flown to a hospital in Edmonton with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

“When I went to the food court, there was a guy laying there, blood all over the ground, with a bullet hole in his leg,” Cole Belcourt, who manages a clothing store in the mall, said.  “It must have hit an artery because I’ve never seen so much blood in one spot before. I did an EMR course – I’ve been an EMR for a year-and-a-half.”

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READ MORE: Northern Alberta mall evacuated, reports of shooting inside 

Police said the single bullet also grazed a couple who were walking by with their young children.

The man and woman were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. RCMP initially said a total of two people were injured in the shooting.

The Prairie Mall was put on lockdown and evacuated following the shooting.

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A paramedic escorts a woman away from the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Sept. 15, 2016. CREDIT: William Vavrek Photography
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A person is loaded into an ambulance at Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Sept. 15, 2016. CREDIT: William Vavrek Photography
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An RCMP truck is parked outside of the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CJXX
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An RCMP officer is seen in the food court of the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Sept. 15, 2016. CREDIT: William Vavrek Photography
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The inside of the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Sept. 15, 2016. CREDIT: William Vavrek Photography
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An RCMP presence is seen outside the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. The shopping centre was evacuated Thursday because of an "incident" according to a mall representative. COURTESY: Micah Claxton
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An RCMP presence is seen outside the Prairie Mall in Grande Prairie, Alta. The shopping centre was evacuated Thursday because of an "incident" according to a mall representative. COURTESY: Micah Claxton

RCMP believe the shooter and the initial victim knew each other.

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“This was not random,” RCMP Supt. John Ferguson said. “We feel that there was a connection between the victim and the person … we believe did this.”

Officers now have surveillance video in their possession but aren’t releasing a suspect description at this time.

Mounties said the other males involved in the fight ran away and that as of 10:30 p.m., police had been unable to locate any of them despite an extensive search. As of Friday, RCMP had a person of interest but no arrests had been made.

The RCMP said public safety is not at risk as a result of the shooting.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment at 780-830-5701 or your local police detachment. Tips can also be anonymously submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) online.

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