Several shoppers at Fresno’s Fashion Fair mall rushed out to the parking lot in a frenzy Tuesday evening after hearing a loud noise that some believed were the sound of gunshots.

Fresno Police said the cause of the commotion was a grand theft that occurred around 6:30 p.m. at a jewelry store kiosk inside the mall.

Police said no gunshots were ever fired nor was a gun displayed.

Instead, the loud sound was the result of the suspect kicking in a glass display at Zee Jewelers.

“We were in Macy’s when we heard a loud boom,” shopper Jared Torres said. “Everyone starts saying, ‘Gunshots!. Gunshots!’ I see everyone running out of all the exits.”

The total retail amount of jewelry stolen was not immediately known, police said.

Police added no one was injured during the grand theft or the mass exit of people.

The suspect, though, remains loose.

Police said the suspect was wearing all dark-colored clothing and had a face covering on while approaching the jewelry store.

The suspect ended up leaving much of the stolen jewelry behind during the getaway with the majority of the items recovered outside in the parking lot, police said.

The noise and the presence of police and the sound of sirens going off at the mall caused concern.

Shopper Cameren Poule estimated about 30 to 50 people exited the Macy’s store during the commotion.

“We see the helicopters and all these cops pull in with sirens on,” Poule said. “Everyone was going hectic, running out with their kids and screaming that there’s gunshots, gunfire.

“So that’s why we got a little scared. Everyone was trying to flood through the doors.”

It was just two months ago that a shooting did occur inside Fashion Fair during a confrontation between a man and a group of men on Jan. 2.

In addition, there was an incident in September in which a brief gun battle broke out between a man shopping at a shoe store and a person in a car.

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Las Vegas Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.
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