UPDATED: March 23, 2014 at 7:24 a.m.
WASHINGTON (WNEW) — Dulles Town Center was locked down for hours on Saturday after reports surfaced of a possible shooter inside, but there was no shooting and no gunman was found.
The shopping mall — located in the 21100 block of Dulles Town Circle in Sterling, Va. — was locked down after a conversation was overheard about a possible shooter around 1:45 p.m., Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office officials said.
Joshua Royce, a photographer in the mall at Picture People, said officers armed with assault rifles approached each storefront, including his, instructing employees to lock their security gates with their customers inside.
“We were probably in there about an hour,” Royce said of the 50 people he was able to corral. “They came back to the gate and told us we could evacuate out the back door.”
“We had no idea what was going on,” he said, still a little shaken up, adding he even contacted his loved one to let them know he was okay, while still not knowing the cause of the lockdown. “It was a pretty serious moment.”
Police issued the following press release explaining the incident:
“Around 1:45PM the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible shooting at the Dulles Town Center in Sterling, Virginia.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is advising there was no shooting or gunman seen at the mall. Upon arrival deputies learned the caller overheard two females talking about a possible shooting and that they had to leave.
The two females could not be located and have not contacted law enforcement. Out of an abundance of caution the mall complex was searched and nothing suspicious was located. The mall remains closed at this time but is expected to open shortly.”
Dulles Town Center reopened a few hours later after police conducted a thorough sweep of the premises.
This story will be updated as more information comes in.