A blast of fireworks sent shoppers running for exits and nearby stores on Saturday evening at the Mall at Wellington.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that fireworks were set off in the men’s bathroom near the mall’s food court. The investigation is active, a PBSO spokeswoman said.
Village Manager Jim Barnes said the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had confirmed that fireworks were set off, making noises similar to gunshots and frightening mall patrons who then took to social media to share their concerns.
According to a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue spokesperson, Fire Rescue and PBSO responded to the mall on the southeast corner of State Road 7 and Forest Hill Boulevard about 5:05 p.m. for “a reported mass casualty incident.”
One person was injured in a fall and taken to the hospital, the Fire Rescue spokesperson said.
Wellington Green will remain closed tonight but will reopen at 11 a.m. tomorrow, the mall spokeswoman said. The mall opened at 10 a.m. today and was due to close at 8 p.m.
Chilling photos posted to local Facebook groups shared chaotic scenes: Customers crammed into backrooms of stores. Children’s shoes scattered in the mall’s play area. Shopping bags left abandoned and merchandise scattered.
Panicked family members and friends nearly immediately posted to local Facebook groups looking for answers, saying their boyfriend or mother or child was inside the mall and reported that they heard shots.
The incident also affected Palm Tran bus service for routes 40, 43, 46, 52 and 62, Palm Tran said in a Facebook post. Bus stops were being diverted from the Palm Tran stop near Macy’s and Nordstrom, to the Park and Ride on Wellington Green, on the west side of the Fairfield Inn and Suites.
Earlier in the day, the mall’s Grand Court, which is next to the food court, was packed with families for the Dig for Fun event, hosted by the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History and Leader Learning Center.