First responders in East Alton spent Saturday night dealing with a shooting and a fire in the same vicinity. Two people were injured in the shooting, The Telegraph newspaper in Alton reported.
Police responded about 8 p.m. to a report of gunfire outside East Alton Ice Arena, which is part of EastGate Plaza shopping center, a strip mall along Lewis and Clark Boulevard (Illinois 3). A man believed to be the suspect fled north on foot.
A post on the East Alton Police Department Facebook page is asking the public for help. Anyone with information can call investigators at 618-259-6212.
St. Louis TV stations showed footage Saturday night of multiple emergency vehicles with flashing lights in the EastGate Plaza parking lot.
“One mom told me her son was inside playing hockey when the people inside heard gunshots,” KMOV reporter Deion Broxton tweeted from the scene.
Nearby, around the same time, a fire broke out at Club Fitness. The Telegraph reported Sunday morning that it was caused by a heating and air-conditioning unit malfunction.
“When firefighters arrived, smoke could be seen inside the fitness center and billowing from its roof,” KSDK reported Saturday night.
Two women, a mother and daughter, were injured in the shooting, according to The Telegraph. An unidentified source told the newspaper the women were securing a child’s car seat inside a vehicle when they were approached by a man asking for a cigarette lighter.
“The women told the man they did not have a lighter before he shot one of the women in the thigh, with the bullet also injuring the other woman,” the newspaper reported.
One of the women reportedly was treated at an area hospital, and the other was transported to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for surgery.
East Alton Ice Arena was hosting junior varsity hockey matches involving Bethalto, Highland, Alton and East Alton-Wood River high schools on Saturday night, according to the Telegraph, but no students were injured in the shooting.
The arena is owned by the village of East Alton. A message posted on its Facebook page at 10:10 p.m. Saturday read:
“At approximately 8:00pm this evening the East Alton Police Department responded to a shooting in the parking lot of the rink. We have no further information regarding this incident at this time. We appreciate the quick response of all First Responders involved.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved, and we ask that everyone respect the families need for privacy during this trying time. The East Alton Ice Arena holds the safety, and needs, of our patrons in highest regard and remains open for all scheduled events.”
Club Fitness posted a message about the fire on its Facebook page at 9:14 p.m. Saturday:
“Attention Members: Our East Alton location is temporarily closed until further notice. A small fire occurred within the plaza. We apologize for any inconvenience, additional updates to follow.”
EastGate Plaza has been undergoing a major renovation. It includes an AMC movie theater, Dollar General store, Julia’s Banquet Center, Food A Fare, Blue Ice Creamery, Slush Daiquiri and other businesses.
Germania Brew Haus is under construction, according to the shopping center’s Facebook page. A Joe’s Pizza location is expected to open in March.