Police are searching for at least one shooter and are sweeping stores in the mall, Sgt Mark Francis said about the shooting at the Cascade mall in Burlington, about a 100 km north of Seattle.
“Four confirmed deceased in the mall, shooter(s) left scene before police arrived, unknown # of shooter, possibly just 1, police clearing mall now,” Spokesman Washington State Patrol Francis tweeted.
The suspect was last seen walking toward the Interstate 5 highway from the mall before police arrived, Francis said.
“We’re actively searching for suspect, tracking leads, etc,” he added.
According to local media reports, the shooter apparently entered the mall about 7 PM (local time Friday) through one of its stores ‘Macy’s’.
Local police described the suspect as appearing between 20 to 25 years old, with a “skinny built”, black messy hair and wearing a black shirt.
Francis described the shooter as a “Hispanic male”.
Brandi Montreuil, who was at the mall, said she was at the movies when they were told to leave.
“I didn’t know anything. The theater attendant came in and apologised for stopping the movie and said they (theater staff) were asked to have everyone leave immediately,” she was quoted as saying by CNN.
She said at first she thought it was a drill.
“But you immediately think about what happened in Aurora, Colorado, so you start moving faster,” Montreuil said, referring to the shooting in 2012 that left 12 dead.
When they got outside, they saw numerous police vehicles, but with no officers in sight.
“We didn’t know if it was a fire so we were looking for smoke of some kind. Then a few officers started canvassing through the crowds asking if anybody saw anything,” Montreuil said.
She said an officer “with a large gun started yelling for people to leave, and fast”.
The Cascade Mall is an enclosed shopping mall in Burlington, Washington that opened in 1990, according to the mall’s website.
It features J C Penney, TJ Maxx, and Macy’s stores, among other stores, restaurants and a movie theater. (With agency inputs)