After multiple guilty verdicts in the Tacoma Mall shooting of 2005, Dominick Maldonado, center, listens to his attorney in 2007 in Superior Court. PETER HALEY Staff file, 2007
After multiple guilty verdicts in the Tacoma Mall shooting of 2005, Dominick Maldonado, center, listens to his attorney in 2007 in Superior Court. PETER HALEY Staff file, 2007

Crime

Looking back: Gunfire at the Tacoma Mall — its darkest hours

By Stacia Glenn

Staff writer

October 10, 2015 09:00 AM

UPDATED October 11, 2015 06:07 PM

 

Follow the screams.

That’s what Dominick S. Maldonado told 911 dispatchers on Nov. 20, 2005, when he called to warn them he was about to start shooting.

Then, carrying an assault rifle beneath his trench coat, he walked into the Tacoma Mall and touched off a rampage that wounded seven people and terrorized thousands who were shopping on that Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon.

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Maldonado, then 20, fired randomly at least 20 times. The bullets pierced flesh, struck several kiosks, shattered windows and lodged in sales computers.

Dan McKown, a stand-up comic who worked at a mall store, heard the chaos and walked toward the shooter. He carried a concealed pistol.

Maldonado, then 20, fired randomly at least 20 times. The bullets pierced flesh, struck several kiosks, shattered windows and lodged in sales computers.

He urged Maldonado to put down the gun. Instead, Maldonado fired at McKown. Five bullets hit McKown, who lay bleeding internally for about an hour before help arrived.

Then Maldonado walked into a Sam Goody store and took four hostages, barricading them in the store and calling dispatchers to request a police negotiator.

After more than three hours, Maldonado walked out of the mall with his hostages and tearfully surrendered.

When a judge sentenced him to more than 163 years in prison, Maldonado apologized for his actions that day and wished the Seattle Seahawks a good season.

In 2011, Maldonado held a prison guard hostage at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center during an escape attempt with another inmate, who was fatally shot.

Nowadays, Maldonado’s serving his time at Florence High United States Penitentiary in Colorado.

McKown is paralyzed and remains in a wheelchair but continues on the comedy circuit and doesn’t regret confronting the shooter. In an interview last week, he said he’d intervene again if somebody was in danger and the proper authorities weren’t there.

“For good or bad, that’s my nature,” he said.

McKown will mark the shooting of the mall anniversary this year with a comedy show at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater about the incident. He also is writing a book about his experience.

“We’re going to tell the world we’re still standing,” he said.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com