Kyle Busch following Mall of America shooting: ‘Are they running away from something so am I going right into the line of fire?’

What was supposed to be a day off for NASCAR Cup Series veteran Kyle Busch and his family on Thursday ahead of his race at Michigan International Speedway became a scary situation when a shooting occurred at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. No injuries occurred and the family was able to depart the mall prior to it entering lockdown, and Busch and wife Samantha have since offered their perspectives on what they saw and felt.

According to Bloomington Police, the situation began with an argument involving two parties in the Mall of America’s Nike Store at approximately 4:15 PM Central Time. One of the groups departed before an unidentified person fired at least three shots into the store before escaping. The mall was placed on lockdown before lifting it at 5:40 PM, and reopened on Friday morning.

No injuries were reported in the shooting while police continue to search for suspects.

The Busch family was at the mall to take a break from seven-year-old son Braxton‘s dirt track racing. Many of Brexton’s recent events leading up to Thursday were in the Midwest at tracks like Thunder Hill Speedway in Menomonie, Wisconsin, with Mall of America providing a brief break before traveling to Brooklyn, Michigan for his father’s Cup race. Kyle and Brexton were in queue for a ride while Samantha was shopping at the time of the shooting, and the former were caught on video among the group of evacuating patrons by WFFT’s Andy Paras.

“We were at the @mallofamerica yesterday when a shooting happened,” Samantha posted on Instagram on Friday. “We had been spending the afternoon riding the rides in the center of the mall and then the girls split up to shop while the boys stayed for more rides. Then chaos ensued. I was standing at the entrance of H&M which is on floor 1 when I heard screaming from above. A group of people were running and yelling. My brain instantly thought it was just teenagers being goofy and then a split second later herds of people on levels 2 and 3 were running. Next a wave of people started down our corridor and that’s when I heard people shouting ‘active shooter in the mall’. You know the logical thing to do is run out the doors but with Kyle and Brexton still somewhere inside I froze where I was.

“Thank God when I called Kyle he answered as he and Brex were next in line for a ride and they didn’t know what was happening. We stayed on the phone with each other while the girls went running outside, getting as much distance from the mall as we could, and the boys made a beeline to the closet parking garage to get out of the building. People were crying, shouting on cell phones, sirens going off, everyone was confused and didn’t know what was happening, which was the scary part. You didn’t know if it was one person, multiple people, where exactly they were in the mall or outside too, where was it safe to go?

“We ended up finding out it was a dispute between two groups that ended in shots fired. It’s a lot to process as an adult but really hard as a parent to explain to your child what happened yesterday. Why it happened, what to do in a situation like that, what to do if it was another type of situation. How much do you cover without making it worse for them?”

“Squeezing the family a little tighter today.”

Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Busch recalled prior to Cup qualifying on Saturday that “there was definitely a sense of danger. A huge sense of danger.

“Samantha called me, we had no idea, Brexton and I were actually in line for a ride. We were the next to go on that ride, and she called me and I answered and we skipped right through, going on the ride and went out straight back out the exit. And then we just stayed on the phone together because she told me, ‘There’s an active shooter and shots have been fired in the mall.’ And at that point, active shooter or somebody shooting at another person, whatever shots are being fired, you don’t know. So that’s the scariest part is you have no idea what is happening so I’m asking her, ‘Where are you? What store is it coming from? What level are you on?’ All those sorts of things to figure out. Am I walking my way right into it, or am I walking my way out of it? And so there’s chaos. There’s people running this way, there’s people running that way, and you’re worried when there’s people running at you, ‘Okay, are they running away from something so am I going right into the line of fire?’

“You just have no idea, so your head’s on a swivel, your eyes are wide open, and again I was on the phone talking with Samantha and hearing where she and the baby were and how they were doing getting out. She stayed on the phone with me to see my path and trajectory to be able to get out and help me with the information that she had. You’re flying blind and you have no idea what the situation really is. But it’s scary, for sure, and there’s many other people that unfortunately go through that stuff apparently on a daily basis. Samantha has gotten a ton of messages that, ‘Oh, this happened to so-and-so that I know at a grocery store. This happened to so-and-so I know wherever, this happened to me.’ It’s just not fun.”

While such a situation can provide a traumatic experience for those involved, such that one might express worry about being in crowded events like a race weekend, Busch expressed confidence in track security.

“All we can do is rely on the people that are here and around us and the security and things like that, that they do their job when we’re at the race track,” he continued. “I’ve had threats of that sort before, here years ago, and I was a little bit sheltered from it. I think I was maybe 22 or something like that when that all went down, but you would think on the daily that you can go do your job and work and have fans and everybody come out and enjoy something and have fun at something and you know , don’t feel threatened.”

Although nobody was hurt, the incident continues to raise questions about the United States’ gun crisis, especially with the wave of mass shootings in recent months and the debate over gun control. The Mall of America had been the site of another shooting in late December 2021 that injured two people.

The shooting, among other stories in Busch’s career such as breaking his legs in the 2015 Xfinity Series season opener that sidelined him for much of the year, shone more light on the fragility of life.

“What’s important is spending time with your loved ones, while you’re here during the time in which you’re here on Earth. Having that opportunity to do that and obviously doing what I do is not necessarily life or death, but there is a danger and I assume that risk and know that risk and my family does as well too. You hope you can pray every day that you’re able to go to work and do a good job and come out of the race car and go on to live another day. I’ve broken my legs, I’ve broken my foot, I’ve wrecked pretty hard a lot of times and knock on wood, I’ve come out unscathed to where I’m able to see another day. But you can be driving up and down the road and get hit by somebody texting and driving. They’re looking at their phone, they’re texting, and they swerve over the centreline and if you’re not paying attention to get away from it, you know there can be a catastrophe there. It’s everywhere. We’ve all seen the movies on scary situations that can be, but you try to live life smart and the best you know how and have fun while doing it without having that dread weighing upon you.”

Busch will start third in Sunday’s race.

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