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Chesterfield mall employee describes food court shooting: 'Everybody was running'

Shooting in food court at Chesterfield Towne Center.
William Ezell Taylor Jr.jpeg
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:06:35-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The victim shot inside the food court at Chesterfield Towne Center on Tuesday remains in critical condition, according to Chesterfield Police Lt. Brad Conner.

William Ezell Taylor Jr., 23, of Hinton Street in Petersburg, was charged with aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection to the June 23 shooting.

Lt. Conner said Taylor is accused of shooting a man during a fight at Chesterfield Towne Center on Midlothian Turnpike just after 6 p.m. Tuesday.

“We have not been able to uncover any type of connection between the victim and the suspect. As far as we know there was no knowledge of each other,” he explained.

Aspen Ward had just clocked out of her first shift at the mall when she heard shouting.

“I heard furniture scraping against the tile,” she recalled. “I remember seeing one get tackled on the ground and was punching him in the face.”

Ward said a woman picked up a chair and attempted to stop the fighting. That’s when Ward started walking out of the mall.

She heard at least three gunshots and ran to her car.

“As soon as I got in my car I didn’t bother with my seatbelt,” Ward described. “I remember no one stopped and everybody was running. It was really scary.”

Officers in tactical gear swarmed the mall searching for the suspected shooter. Entrances were on lockdown as shoppers were told to hunker down in stores.

Lt. Conner said it’s unclear what led up to the altercation.

Police arrested Taylor during a traffic stop without incident at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. He is due in court Thursday morning.

Police asked anyone with information to call Chesterfield Police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.