Two New York residents injured after shot fired in Galleria mall Suspect charged with reckless endangerment, misdemeanor assault
Michael Perez-Rodriguez, 27, of Forest City, PA, is charged with reckless endangerment and misdemeanor assault in connection with the shooting at the Galleria at Crystal Run on Sunday.
BY ERIKA NORTON MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Police say the man who fired a gun inside the busy Galleria at Crystal Run on Sunday afternoon — leaving two Goshen, N.Y., residents injured and prompted a lockdown and evacuation — is now in custody. Town of Wallkill (N.Y.) police say Michael Perez-Rodriguez, 27, of Forest City, Pa., allegedly discharged one round from a handgun into the floor on the second level of the Orange County mall in front of the American Eagle store at about 3 p.m. on Sunday. The victims of the incident — a 49-year-old mother and her 12-year-old child — suffered minor leg wounds either from bullet fragments or shattered floor tile as a result of the gunshot, but were treated and released from the hospital. The chargesAt a press conference Wednesday afternoon, police announced that Perez-Rodriguez had been charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony, and two counts of misdemeanor assault in Wallkill (N.Y.) Town Court in connection with the incident. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Wednesday. Police released surveillance footage on Tuesday allegedly showing Perez-Rodriguez at the mall with a woman and two small children, who police say is his pregnant wife and children. Immediately after releasing the footage, police say calls came in to the Wallkill police. Several of the callers reported that the suspect had been living in Monticello, N.Y. After interviews with some of the tipsters in Monticello, Wallkill and state police spread out over the area in an attempt to locate the suspect. At about 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, Perez-Rodriguez turned himself into Monticello police and was later transported to the Wallkill police department, where he was interviewed, along with his wife and other witnesses. Police concluded that they believe he is the man who allegedly fired the shot at the mall. Officials would not say whether Perez-Rodriguez allegedly fired his gun accidentally or intentionally. Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said that Perez-Rodriguez has been cooperative with investigators and has no criminal history. He also said Perez-Rodriguez had a valid New York State carry permit issued in Sullivan County, so no criminal weapons possession charges have been filed. It also appears that Perez-Rodriguez changed his appearance from the surveillance footage allegedly taken of him at the mall on Sunday afternoon. He was clean shaven when police took him into custody on Tuesday night. Perez-Rodriguez was arraigned in the Town of Wallkill Court before Judge Peter Green and sent to Orange County Jail on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond until his next court appearance on Monday, Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. Inside the chaos in the mallUpon arriving at the mall filled with post-Thanksgiving holiday shoppers, police immediately put the mall on lockdown Sunday afternoon. They evacuated customers and searched the stores twice to ensure there were no other victims, and that all customers and employees had left the area. Florida, N.Y., resident Hayley Coriaty was in the mall with her mother and little sister at the time of the shooting. They had a free hour before the movie they had planned to see started, so they went to the new Round 1 bowling alley and arcade to play some games. “We only got two games in and, all of a sudden, we saw a herd of people with faces terrified, running,” Coriaty said. “So our immediate reaction was, run.” She said they didn’t hear what had happened because they were in the noisy arcade. They saw people running in all different directions, so didn’t know which way to go. Then they spotted a door opening at the Custom T’s T-shirt store. The manager held the door open and was looking around. Coriaty, her mom, and her little sister ran into the store, the last three people to get into the extremely small room where 20 to 25 others were also hiding. “Somebody in the room said we think it’s a shooter out there,” she said. “My heart dropped. The unknown is the worst feeling and not having control of the situation is horrifying.” Coriaty, her family, and the others — which included young children — hid for about 40 minutes before SWAT team members arrived to escort them out of the mall. She said the SWAT team was still on high alert since the shooter had not been found. They were breaking down every door to make sure everyone had gotten out, she said. When they got outside, they ran to their parked car, which was at the complete opposite end of the mall, and drove away. “It was definitely not an situation I ever want to experience again, ever,” she said. Coriaty also said she wants to thank the manager of the Custom T’s store for staying calm and helping them hide. Investigation continuesTown of Wallkill Police Chief Robert Hertman said that the investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information or video or still photos capturing this incident is still asked to contact Town of Wallkill Police Department detectives at 845-692-6757.