A West Hempstead man accused of stealing items from Macy’s in Roosevelt Field on Christmas Eve and causing a subsequent scuffle with security that led shoppers to believe a gunman was in the mall was officially charged, Nassau County police said.
The mall descended into a frenzy Tuesday afternoon after mall security attempted to place 19-year-old Aaron Darby into custody for “failing to pay for store merchandise,” at Macy’s, police said, when a perfume display was knocked over, producing a loud bang that sounded like gunfire.
Chaos quickly ensued as frightened shoppers shouted that there was a gunman in the store, sending many last-minute Christmas shoppers to the exits.
Several people suffered minor injuries during the incident, police said.
Macy’s employees described a chaotic scene with customers pushing and elbowing there way out the store. One worker said she saw several empty strollers as frightened parents swooped up their children and left the store.
“At first, we didn’t know what was going on and people were in panic mode,” said 27-year-old Marie Seale, a Macy’s employee, who, upon learning from a customer of a possible shooter, navigated customers and co-workers to a nearby bathroom where they stayed until a voice over the loud speaker confirmed that the store was safe.
Darby was charged with petit larceny. He was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 7 at First District Court in Hemptead.