Police said the shots were actually fireworks, still a scary situation. With malls now targets for violence, shoppers like Jim Tanner said they didn't wait to find out what the noise was.
"The first thing I knew was several people came running past me toward the exterior doors and I just followed along, because you don't know what's happening at that point or what's about to come around the corner,” Tanner explained.
Although this wasn't a shooting, the Department of Homeland Security says it's good to prepare.
They say to stay calm and choose to run with all your might, but if you can't escape they suggest that you hide, and your last choice is to fight.
"You don't expect to go to the mall and have something like that happen. Thankfully this doesn't appear to be a shooter situation, but it was still crazy to see,” Tanner said.
Law enforcement in the Tennessee Valley train for active shooter scenarios year round.
Police say when authorities arrive at an active situation, it's important to follow instructions and keep your hands visible.
"Crazy just to see everything dumped over and the food court completely empty and police running around with their guns out,” Tanner added.
Authorities say while no one likes to think of the worst case scenario, the fact is bad things can and do happen. It's why they say it’s important be prepared and discuss a plan with your family in the event there is a real threat.