At least three people, including the suspected gunman, died Saturday in a shooting at a shopping mall in Columbia, Maryland, a city north of the U.S. capital, police officials said.

Howard County police reported three fatalities on their Twitter account, and said that one of them was found with a gun and ammunition.

Soon afterwards in another tweet, the same source confirmed that one of the dead was the suspected shooter and that there was still no news about who the other two victims were.

The mall where the shooting took place, located between Washington and the city of Baltimore, is very popular among residents of the region but is now closed.

The first call to emergency services about the shooting was made around 11:15 a.m., just an hour after the mall opened its doors.

The shooting apparently occurred on the second floor of the building, which has some 200 stores.

Cops and firefighter units rushed to the scene, and the agents now inside the mall are helping people evacuate the building, which Howard County police believe is now safe.

The local channel of the NBC network in Washington spoke with a man whose daughter was inside the mall at the time of the shooting and who described the situation as chaotic.

In this week alone there have been two shootings at U.S. universities, in the states of Indiana and South Carolina, that left two people dead.

On Wednesday authorities partially closed the University of Oklahoma as well for what was though to be a shooting, but it later turned out to be a false alarm. EFE