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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Five dead in Lane Bryant Shooting

A gunman has fatally shot five people in an apparent robbery at a store in a suburban Chicago Tinley Park shopping mall and fled, prompting police to sweep through neighbouring shops as terrified customers watched.

The victims -- all females -- were killed at a Tinley Park Lane Bryant clothing store at the Brookside Marketplace. Police found the victims at the back of the store.

A police spokesman said robbery was believed to be the motive. Officers searched for the gunman using a helicopter and dogs, and even stopped buses, but concluded that the man had left the area on Interstate 80 south-west of downtown Chicago.

In a Target store across the car park from Lane Bryant, terrified customers were herded to the front as police with pistols and rifles drawn went up and down the aisles and into storerooms searching for the gunman.

"I was so scared I couldn't think," said Selena Kujawa, who had just entered the store with her five-year-old son when it was locked down. After about an hour, customers were told to leave.

"They told us to get in our cars and get out of here," Kujawa said.

Meanwhile, the Chicago police department warned its officers to pay attention to similar shopping malls and other Lane Bryant stores. Police are downloading video from CCTV cameras.

The Lane Bryant store was open at the time of the shootings. Police declined to say whether the victims were customers or employees.

It is now confirmed one of the dead was a Lane Bryant Employee. The gunman was described as an African-American man, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing between 230 and 260 pounds, Grady said. He was wearing a waist-length black winter coat, a black cap and dark jeans.

Authorities believe there was only one shooter, Grady said. Helicopters helped in the search for the gunman, who is no longer believed to be in the immediate area, he said.

Authorities were downloading surveillance video from businesses within a mile and a half of the Lane Bryant store to see if any cameras captured the gunman.

Police appealed to the public for help, urging anyone with information to contact police at 708-444-5368.

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