Man shot and killed in parking lot at Petaluma Village Premium Outlets mall

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A man was shot and killed Saturday night in the parking lot outside the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets, where the sound of gunfire and subsequent car crash at the outdoor mall triggered a deluge of 911 calls to police.

Several hundred shoppers and employees were at the mall and the parking lots that encircle it when gunshots rang out about an hour before the shopping center closed for the night, Petaluma Police Lt. Brian Miller said.

“There were a number of people in the parking lot and the premises at the time,” Miller said. “This could have been more tragic than it already is.”

Officers responded to the mall in northwest Petaluma at 8 p.m. after receiving numerous calls of gunshots in the area and a crash in the parking lot to the south of the complex.

A man’s body was found behind the wheel of a car that slammed into a metal pole for a sign marking a disabled parking spot. Investigators believe the man was shot inside the four-door sedan, which traveled some 100 to 200 yards before running over the sidewalk and crashing into the pole, Miller said.

The man was unconscious and could not be revived by paramedics. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Miller declined to release any further details about the shooting, including the name of the victim. He would not say if investigators had identified a motive or any suspects. Petaluma police detectives are handling the case as a homicide.

The dead man appears to be the only person targeted in the attack, Miller said.

Investigators are combing through witness statements, a time-consuming task because of the large number of people who were shopping or working at the mall during the shooting, Miller said.

Broken glass from the car was strewn around the parking lot, where police cordoned off a large section as they conducted their investigation. About a dozen shoppers and workers were prohibited from getting to their cars on Saturday night. The area was cleared by 5 a.m. Sunday, Miller said.

“We felt that it was appropriate for the gravity of the crime that the inconvenience was reasonable,” Miller said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any information about the victim Sunday. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, Miller said.

The property is owned by Simon Property Group, which also owns Santa Rosa Plaza. The complex has about 60 stores and other tenants, including Nike Factory Store, Old Navy, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. Just like the city of Petaluma, the shopping complex is not an area known for violent crime, Miller said. Police calls for service would typically revolve around property crimes such as theft at the location, he said.

Police asked anyone with information on the shooting to contact Detective Walt Spiller at 707-778-4456.

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