*This is an evolving story and will be updated with new developments.
UPDATE on 11/23/22: Zachary Michael Ginsberg, 32, of San Jose has been arrested as the suspect of this drive-by shooting. According to the Almanac, Ginsberg was a former employee at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, and had been sending threatening messages to his former restaurant supervisor leading up to the shooting. The two apparently had an interpersonal conflict. The supervisor was working at Fleming’s at the time of the shooting. Another shooting occurred today at a Walmart in Virginia, where 6 victims were shot and killed. The shooting was also at the workplace of the suspect, the location of over 30% of mass shootings since 1966.
Earlier this afternoon, an unknown suspect in a moving vehicle on El Camino opened fire on Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and an empty car at the Stanford Shopping Center. Police evacuated the mall, and many shoppers went into lockdown at nearby stores. The suspect fired at least two bullets at approximately 4:25 p.m. on Monday, November 21st, and by 5:14 p.m. the Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) reported on their Twitter account that they had secured the scene. There have been no reported injuries or deaths.
After closing off part of El Camino Real to look for evidence, the PAPD reported, “At least two shots were fired from there, and a witness reported seeing the suspect flee from that area in a black Chevrolet Camaro northbound on El Camino Real.”
Freshman Riya Mehta was running with the M-A Cross Country team along El Camino by the soccer fields across the street from Stanford Mall when a nearby pedestrian warned them that there was an active shooter. Mehta said, “We immediately changed our route and went a different way. All we knew was that there was an active shooter—we weren’t even sure if they were still active.”
Mehta said, “It was really chaotic, because even as we were running and driving back home, we still saw police cars going to the mall.”
Mehta explained, “We were a little scared, but we stuck together. I didn’t fully process it until after I got home. Then, I realized how scary this was. It’s really sad how desensitized we are to shootings, after we were out of the area we went back to our normal routine.”
Alyssa Sterns, in town for the holidays, was in a nearby store at the mall with her mother. She said they heard several gunshots. After the arrival of three police cars made her realize the severity of the situation, Sterns said, “We started walking back to the car, but as we approached the scene, we saw cop cars blocking the parking lot. A cop said over the megaphone, ‘Everybody leave the mall now. Leave.’ Then when people weren’t going fast enough, the cop yelled louder, ‘You need to move faster, get a move on, go!’ And that’s when things got chaotic. People didn’t know where to go—do we try to leave the mall, leaving ourselves exposed and vulnerable? Or do we try to hide in a store?”
The police didn’t order any lockdowns, but Sterns and her mother hid inside Victoria’s Secret where the staff helped them lock down the store and hide in the back. The group stayed hidden for 45 minutes, receiving updates on the situation every 15 minutes from the Stanford Mall Emergency Contact.
Sterns added, “It was nice to see how everyone I was sheltering with rallied together even though we were in a horrible situation. Everyone was comforting one another and being extra kind.”
Junior Zahara Agarwal said she was going to go shopping at Sigona’s when she heard about the shooter. She said, “The staff was closing and one of them told me, ‘Just so you know, they’re telling people to evacuate because there’s a shooter on the other side of the mall.’” Agarwal left right away, but said, “I saw a lot more cop cars coming into the mall while everyone else was leaving. I think the gun had gone off right before I pulled into the mall.”
She continued, “It was really weird and scary because you always see shootings in the news, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. We live in such a safe place that it feels surreal, especially after the gun on campus a few weeks ago.” She said, “I’ve always been super pro gun control, but it definitely illustrates the severity of the issue, because now it’s happening in my hometown.”
Mehta added, “I thought in my head that something like this couldn’t happen to us or anywhere near us, yet it did. It was so scary knowing how close Stanford Mall is. I am so glad everyone was safe and no one got injured.”
As of now, the police haven’t detained any suspect. The PAPD has yet to respond to a request for comment, but is posting updates on their Twitter.