Witnesses Describe Panic During Smash-and-Grab Robbery at Modesto Mall

MODESTO -- Amid Sunday's misinformation about a shooting at Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, people ran or hid for their lives and cried for their loved ones.

"This like little 2-year-old, babies, who were there, who were hiding in the bathroom of Starbucks, and hiding under tables because they thought they were gonna die," witness Lily Carillo said. "Their parents were trying to keep them calm. It was just a mess."

Witnesses say they heard what sounded like gunshots at the mall.

"All I heard was a very loud banging sound and people were running. There was a woman trying to shield herself with a table," witness Scott Lyon told FOX40 Monday.

"There was someone yelling, 'There’s a shooter, run!' And there’s a whole mass of people starting to run," Carillo said.

Carillo, who was visiting from the Bay Area, says she was separated from her family — lost in a sea of confusion.

"I had such, like, a fear in my chest because my little brothers are only 10 and 12 and I didn’t know how they were going to get out," she said.

Lyon, helped by mall employees, hid in a kiosk with his wife and young daughter.

"It was a very surreal moment but my wife, my daughter was crying, she was terrified," Lyon said. "I mean, they thought this was it."

The situation was aggravated by reports on social media that claimed a shooter was inside.

"The sound of the glass breaking probably made people feel like they heard gunshots, but in fact, they did not," Modesto Police spokeswoman Sharon Bear said.

No shots were fired but investigators say four men robbed the Valliani Jewelers store.

"They appeared to be browsing and then they pulled out a sledgehammer, broke the glass, grabbed some jewelry and then immediately fled," Bear said.

Hours later, three men smashed displays and grabbed jewelry from a Valliani in Milpitas. Investigators say they are working to determine whether or not both robberies are linked.

While families are relieved, they’re left with the horror of what could have been.

"I really thought like my whole family was gonna be dead. I didn’t want to go back inside the mall because you didn’t know what was happening," Carillo said.

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