An 18-year-old says he was being chased around the Mall of America's third floor when he pulled out a handgun and shot one of the men coming after him.
Kahlil Wiley was charged in Hennepin County District Court Thursday with two counts of second-degree assault in connection with the New Year's Eve shooting, which sent shoppers fleeing out the doors and into shops as the megamall was locked down. Authorities, in the charges, say the mall was "crowded" at the time, noting there were children around.
The shooting injured two people, with one suffering a non-life threatening bullet wound to his leg, and the other a graze wound to the shoulder.
Prosecutors say a lingering dispute between that first victim and Wiley sparked the shooting at the mall. According to the charges:
That victim, after being treated for his leg wound at the hospital, told investigators he knew Wiley, and had been "upset about a prior incident" involving the 18-year-old. When the victim saw Wiley at the Mall of America that afternoon, he chased after him. During this pursuit, Wiley turned, pulled out a handgun and shot the victim in the leg.
Investigators learned where Wiley was living, watched him leave the residence and get in a vehicle, then initiated a traffic stop, the charges state. That's when they arrested Wiley, with officers saying he had a 9mm on him at the time.
Wiley admitted to shooting the victim, according to the charges, providing a similar account of what happened. According to the criminal complaint:
Wiley said the victim and another individual began chasing him and a friend. Wiley ran "several laps" around the corridor trying to find the escape, but became scared when the victim got close. So he pulled out a gun and fired. He told investigators the gun found on him during the traffic stop is the one he used in the MOA shooting, and admitted he bought the weapon online.
Investigators at the scene found a single shell casing and determined Wiley fired one shot, the charges allege. The bullet went through the first victim's leg, ricocheted off a metal railing at the mall, then grazed the shoulder of the second victim (who was treated at the scene).
Wiley's first court appearance is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman put out a statement Thursday afternoon describing Wiley's alleged actions as "dangerous, brazen behavior."
"Given how crowded the mall was with patrons, including young children with their families, I am surprised and relieved there weren’t more victims,” Freeman said, adding his office will ask for an upward sentencing departure if there is a conviction.
Police had initially arrested a 19-year-old St. Paul man in connection with the mall shooting. He was released from Hennepin County jail Wednesday without charges being filed against him.
Freeman said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the shooter "acted independently," and that there isn't any evidence the 19-year-old intentionally aided and abetted the gunman.
"As a result, we are declining to file charges against [him]," Freeman said.