By Ehlayna Napolitano (News Editor) It was nearing 11 a.m. on Wednesday when Emanuela Ambrosio was told to stop shopping at Roosevelt Field Mall. Ambrosio and her friend were asked to exit the store Lush by sales associates, who were notified that they had to shut down the store. As they attempted to approach the exit of the mall, they could not get out.
Shots were fired outside of mall property on 645 South St. in East Garden City at 10:10 a.m. The alleged shooter’s name is Sang Ho Kim.
When Nassau Police arrived on the scene, they found two victims with gunshot wounds. One of the victims was in surgery at the time of publication and their condition remains unknown. The other victim was killed.
The suspect then fled towards the mall in a 2008 white Honda Pilot.
Shortly after action was taken on campus to lock gates, Public Safety received notification from NCPD that the shooting did not pose a threat to Hofstra, which is why campus was never officially locked down.
The mall, however, was put on strict lockdown. No one was allowed to leave or enter the mall, and a widespread police presence was established inside.
“It was nerve-racking to know you couldn’t get out of the situation,” said Ambrosio, sophomore English major. She was present during the immediate aftermath of the shooting .
“We were just trying to figure out where to go,” Ambrosio said. “They weren’t letting anybody out.”
Confusion surrounding the attack echoed throughout the area with businesses and schools on high alert and in many cases, locked down. Social media exploded with tweets and comments from concerned students, residents and alumni.
At Hofstra, a Campus Alert Notification Network (CANN) notification was sent out to students, alerting them to the shooting. They also issued a description of the suspect, stating that he was a “male Asian, 6’ driving a white Honda Pilot” with a New York license plate.
The CANN notification also let students know that safety precautions were being taken on campus, including locking the gates on North Campus and the Netherlands.
“When we heard just like everyone else did [about the shooting], we made a decision… to staff the gates,” said Karen O’Callaghan, director of Public Safety. “We could check vehicles coming on and off campus.”
However, the safety precautions being taken by Hofstra and surrounding schools, as well as up to date news developments, remained unknown to those still locked within the mall.
“Nobody knew what was going on outside the mall,” Ambrosio said. “Everyone was calling their loved ones and telling them they were okay.”
Phone calls were a prime mode of communication as the story developed. The front desk in the Hofstra Information Center had phones ringing all throughout the morning and early afternoon.
“The front desk was extremely busy with parents and students [calling],” O’Callaghan said.
Inside the mall, Ambrosio said the air was one of nervous anticipation.
“I was calmer than I probably should have been,” she said. “A couple of people were freaking out…[but] people weren’t very hysterical. It was sort of an uncomfortable [anxiety] rather than mass hysteria.”
It was early afternoon before the mall began allowing people to leave, according to Ambrosio. However, cars were still not allowed into the parking lot, and people were not allowed to loiter out front.
All local lockdowns were lifted around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. As of late Wednesday night, police are conducting a manhunt as the suspect is still at large.
Additional reporting by Samantha Neudorf