Man Shoots Himself in the Leg at Victoria's Secret Store, Flees With Woman

Detectives in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are searching for a man who they say accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Victoria's Secret store inside the King of Prussia Mall in the Upper Merrion Township.

Upper Merion Township police were notified of the shooting inside the store on the lower level of the shopping mall at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Law enforcement were told a man had accidentally shot himself and that he was last seen running out of the lingerie and beauty retail store with a woman. At the scene, officers spotted a trail of blood from the mall leading to the parking lot.

The store's surveillance footage showed that the man appeared to have a gun in his hand, inside his jacket pocket, when it suddenly went off and shot him in the leg, police said. Officers ruled it was an accidental shooting.

Police said that after the man and woman fled the mall, they left the scene a silver Dodge minivan, with a front driver's side fender having a different colour. No other injuries were reported.

Investigators said the case was "very concerning on many levels."

"Preliminarily, it appears that the person with the gun was not following basic gun safety measures while carrying a gun inside a busy store," the Upper Merion Township Police Department told Newsweek in a statement.

"After the gun is fired, the male and accompanying female immediately flee the area without checking to see if anyone else was injured by the gunshot. When the gun was fired, there were other shoppers in close proximity to this male. Blood at the scene indicates that the male was injured by the gunshot."

Neither individual are known to have sought medical attention or to have dialled 911.

"These factors raise concerns of whether the male is legally allowed to possess a firearm in Pennsylvania," the statement added.

Police described the man as a black male in his 20s, and the woman as a black female around the same age.

Investigators are asking anyone with information on the incident to contact them on 610-265-3232.

There have been 13 accidental shootings in Pennsylvania so far this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. There were 75 last year—17 people died in those incidents. Pennsylvania also saw a jump in mass shootings in 2020 compared with 2019, from 19 to 34.

Gun Violence Archive data shows that mass shootings surged by 47 percent across in 2020 compared to the previous year. In 2020, America reported 611 mass shootings that resulted in 513 deaths and 2,543 injuries. In 2019, there were 417 mass shootings with 465 deaths and 1,707 injured.

"Those numbers are sobering," Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit that tackles gun violence, told USA Today. "There are lots of theories flying left and right as to why this happened and it's too early to tell, but what's clear is that it was a very deadly year."

One of the main reasons for this is likely due to the surge in gun sales in the U.S. seen in 2020, she said. The FBI said it performed 39.7 million background for gun purchases in 2020, up 40 percent compared to 2019.

The economic downturn and social restrictions brought by the pandemic highlighted societal inequalities and deprived people of jobs and their usual liberties, and one expert said this may be behind the surge in violence.

"Unemployment is up, so crime is up," Jason Silva, assistant professor in the department of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey told the newspaper. "The 16 to 24 and largely male population often involved in gun violence no longer had the distractions of school or after school activities. Add a jump in drug use and you have a number of possible factors."

Victoria's Secret store front
Victoria's Secret store in New York City on May 19, 2020. Detectives in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are searching for a man who they say accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Victoria’s Secret store inside the King of Prussia Mall. Ben Gabbe/Getty