A fight at a hookah lounge in a La Mesa strip mall escalated quickly Saturday night, leading to a suspect firing shots towards the business.
According to La Mesa police, the shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. near the Vanish Hookah Lounge in the 7500 block of El Cajon Boulevard and Park.
Witnesses told investigators that a fight started inside the hookah lounge and then spilled out into the parking lot. At that point, a black man wearing dark clothing pulled out a gun and began firing shots towards the business.
Police say no one was injured in the shooting.
The gunman fled the scene, and witnesses last saw him running away from the hookah lounge northbound on Comanche Drive.
Police immediately set up a perimeter around the strip mall and began searching for the suspect by ground and air. During the search, officers located the gun used in the shooting.
However, police were unable to immediately locate the gunman, who remains at large.
Police describe the suspect as approximately 6-feet-tall and 250-pounds. He was wearing a blue shirt and dark pants at the time of the shooting.
Witnesses say the shooting sent people running for cover at the Mesa Plaza strip mall. One person at a nearby restaurant told NBC 7 that at least 10 shots were fired.
Witnesses say some people ran into the bathroom of a restaurant next door to the hookah lounge, fearing for their lives when the gunfire erupted.
Restaurant manager Stephanie Zepada says the scene was chaotic, with people panicking and running.
“Our customers were running to the bathroom crying. The moms were scared for their kids and other people from the hookah lounge were all on the floor, basically scared for their lives,” recalled Zepada.
Following the shooting, several bullet holes could be seen in the windows of the hookah lounge.
Police say the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this incident should contact the La Mesa Police Department at (619) 667-1400 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS.