Ocala, FL – Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Albert J. Shell Jr., 39, in connection with a shooting incident at the Paddock Mall on Saturday. At the busy mall, police responded to reports of an active shooter around 3:40 p.m., causing panic among last-minute Christmas shoppers. While there was no active shooter present when police arrived, they discovered one man dead and a woman injured by gunshot wounds. The suspect, Shell, managed to escape the scene.
Several charges are pending against Shell, including first-degree murder and attempted murder, according to the Ocala Police Department. Authorities believe that the victim, 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron, was specifically targeted, although they have not disclosed a motive for the attack.
Eyewitnesses described a terrifying scene as shoppers scrambled for safety during the incident. Jennifer McMurtry, a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter who was wrapping presents at the time, recounted hearing gunshots and seeing the shooter holding a gun. “I heard what sounded like gunshots,” Murty said. “I turned, and I saw the shooter with the gun in his hand.”
McMurtry and other volunteers were trapped by tables and had no escape route. They took cover on the ground, unsure if the shooter would randomly target more individuals.
Following the incident, Mayor Ben Marciano thanked law enforcement for their quick response and expressed condolences to the victims. He emphasized the resilience of the community and its determination to overcome such acts of violence together.
Authorities are urging anyone with information on Shell’s whereabouts to come forward. There is a reward of $5,000 for information leading to his arrest, and $3,000 is being offered for identifying the person who picked up Shell’s hat, which may contain valuable DNA evidence. Shell has a history of arrests, including a recent incident in July where he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend in front of her young son. The ongoing case also includes a charge of witness intimidation for targeting the victim for cooperating with the police.
Investigations into the shooting at the Paddock Mall are ongoing.