NOVI, Mich. (WJBK) - A smash-and-grab robbery caused mass panic and confusion at the Twelve Oaks Mall on Saturday, when the shoppers mistook the sound of glass breaking, for gun fire.
"There was commotion on the upper level," said Lauren Baker, a witness. "We started really freaking out. We had no idea what was happening, and so we started just sprinting out."
"We were shopping in Claire's and all of a sudden we heard some screaming and people running," said Jill Armstrong, who was locked down inside the mall. "And the manager told us that we need to go back into the back stock room because there was something going on in the mall."
Armstong and her children were rushed into hiding just after 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"I was so scared since all the workers thre were like, 'There's gun shots, there's gunshots!'" said witness Zachary Armstrong. "That made me even more scared, andthen they came back and said it was just a sledge hammer and then I was a little more relaxed."
Police took no chances, multiple agencies responded immediately, securing a perimeter and rushing inside.
"There's no evidence inside the mall that shots were fired," said Novi police Sgt. Brian Woloski. "However, once that initial rumor got out, people started to flee the mall."
Police say two suspects had robbed Tapper's jewelry store.
"We believe they may have gotten two watches but we're still investigating that right now," Woloski said.
Police say they believe the suspects were only armed with a hammer. They had a third suspect waiting outside in a getaway vehicle. The three are still at large.
"They weren't masked, they didn't have gloves on, we have detectives currently processing the scene in hopes to gain some sort of identification from the suspects," Woloski said.
Police say this is the second smash-and-grab case at this Tapper's store in the last two months.
As police secured the inside of the mall, they escorted more people out to concerned family members waiting a cross the street.
After about 25 minutes, the Armstrongs were also cleared to leave.
"We're just glad we're out, and we're safe, and now we're going home," Armstrong said.
Police say there were only some minor injuries to some shoppers here, just some bumps and bruises during that mad rush to evacuate, but now, everything is back to normal at the mall.