Police said no one else was shot and there were no other reports of injuries. The shooting was not a random act but rather the result of a feud among people who knew each other - though there was no indication it was gang-related, Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.
During the fight, a weapon was brandished and shots were fired about 2 p.m. at Northlake Mall in Charlotte, Putney said. Shoppers who were crowding the mall for last-minute gifts hid in stores and locked themselves inside, officials said. Police could be seen blocking all mall entrances.
Jake Wallace, 24, of Boone, was in Dick's Sporting Goods when shots rang out nearby - about 30 feet outside the store, near Journey's shoe store on the lower level, according to police.
"I thought someone dropped something. It was extremely loud. Didn't think anything of it," Wallace said. "You don't think gunshots. But then I heard a rapid fire. Once hearing that, there was no mistaking it. It sounded like someone was unloading a clip."
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Chaos erupted as shoppers dived for cover or tried to get out the door, Wallace said.
Don Willis, who works as a valet at the mall, said he heard gunshots, then saw a wave of people exiting the mall.
"It was wild. I heard the first shot and I thought, 'Wait. What was that?' And kind of like started turning around and walking and saw this huge line of people - wave of people coming - and I thought a bomb was about to go off, and I just took off," he said.
Putney said police officer Thomas Ferguson was working off-duty at the mall when he heard the shots and confronted the man who pointed a gun at him.
The officer then "fired his service weapon," Putney said. The suspect was given emergency aid, but medics pronounced him dead shortly afterward, officials said. Police identified him as Daquan Antonio Westbrook, 18.
Westbrook was a rapper who performed as "Donkey Cartel." He had an extensive criminal record.
RELATED: Westbrook was charged last year in the 2013 shooting of a 12-year-old boy
The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Putney said. Multiple weapons were found at the scene.
John Dawson, a salesman who lives in Charlotte, said he was at the mall buying a gift for his date when the shooting erupted. He said it began with an argument inside a store, which he said was packed with customers.
"There was a dude fighting with one or two dudes, and I kind of stopped and looked over there," Dawson said. One person pulled out a gun and started "shooting everywhere."
He said other shoppers began running when the shots were fired. He said a police officer was nearby and returned the fire.
Dawson said the suspect appeared to have been hit twice by the police officer. He said he backed up against a wall and watched as people fled the scene.
Putney said police were trying to determine whether anyone else was shot.
"That is part of the investigation," he said. "The good thing about this case is that there are a lot of witnesses."
The Associated Press contributed to this report