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Walmart in Modesto evacuated after shots fired; no one hurt

MODESTO -- The Wal-Mart store on Plaza Parkway in Modesto was evacuated Monday night after shots were fired in the parking lot and a man believed to be a shooter ran into the store, police said.

Although there were reports of multiple gunshots at 4:50 p.m., police said no one had been hit. At least one vehicle in the parking lot had been struck by several bullets.

No arrests were made, although several people were detained and the investigation is ongoing, according to Sgt. Brian Findlen of the Modesto Police Department.

Up to 200 people were evacuated from the store at Sisk Road and Plaza Parkway, Findlen said.

"We recognize that people were inconvenienced," Findlen said, adding that police felt it was the safest option.

There were four people in the car that had been shot, two men and two women. They are believed to be the victims and were released, Findlen said.

Findlen said some sort of argument apparently resulted in shots being fired.

Police were searching for a white vehicle that witnesses saw fleeing the scene.

Dispatchers also received multiple reports of possible assailants running in the neighborhood. The number of people involved in the incident was unclear Monday evening.

At one point, officers also got word there was a possible assailant inside Wal-Mart talking on a cell phone and becoming agitated. He reportedly was trying to leave Wal-Mart through the main doors, but spotted officers arriving outside.

He went back inside, but was apprehended a short time later without incident.

Findlen said the man was found to be in lawful possession of ammunition that had been purchased at the store. He was released after being questioned by officers.

After evacuating the Wal-Mart, officers searched the store for about an hour, looking for discarded firearms or anyone who might be hiding inside, Findlen said.

A SWAT unit also was on scene.

Man inside Kohl's

About the same time, police received reports from a person inside the Kohl's department store across the parking lot claiming that someone had shot at him. Findlen said the man in Kohl's was actually hiding and believed to be associated with the shooters.

Officers also were told assailants had jumped a wall behind Kohl's and had run into an adjacent apartment complex.

Police called in a helicopter to help with a search of the area behind Kohl's. The search was called off after officers determined that there was no one hiding in the area.

The shooters are described as Latino males, both in their mid-20s and about5 feet, 7 inches tall. The first one was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and black pants. The second was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and black pants. Stores in the Plaza Parkway shopping center resumed regular business operations about an hour after the evacuation. Many were locked down while police looked for shooters.

Alex Henderson, who lives nearby, arrived with his wife to do some shopping after the incident occurred. The longtime area resident said the neighborhood been steadily declining, which he blamed on all the empty houses and the squatters they've attracted.Bobby Krauth of Modesto, who heard about the incident on Facebook and Twitter, decided to go "check it out" with a friend.

When they arrived, he said, people were milling around in the parking lot. Krauth said they appeared more shocked and surprised than scared by incident.Police ask anyone who may have information about the shooting to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward. Tipsters can text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Just type "TIP704" along with the message.

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