Updated at 5:14 pm
Roanoke police now say they have talked to the man shown in surveillance video and say he was carrying an umbrella. Here is the full release the city posted on Facebook:
"The person shown in the earlier photos from the Valley View Mall incident contacted the Roanoke Police Department and has been interviewed by a detective. The item that was being carried was found to be an umbrella, though it appeared to be a rifle to the citizens that called police. Based on the citizens' accounts and the immediate review of the store video, the Police Department acted with the safety and security for the citizens and patrons of Valley View Mall. In the follow up investigation utilizing video enhancement techniques, media, and social media, we were able to locate the individual from the video and successfully resolve the issue. The Roanoke Police Department would like to thank all the tenants, employees and patrons of Valley View Mall for their cooperation and assistance. We would also like to thank all the citizens who have provided information and assistance in this matter."
Updated at 4:00 pm
Roanoke City police now say they can't be 100% sure that the man who was seen in Valley View Mall last night was actually carrying a gun. The man spotted by both store employees and shoppers may have been carrying an umbrella. Roanoke City police are releasing the surveillance photos from Macy's and would like to talk to the man shown in the photo carrying something long and black. Police have a picture of him entering the mall but no photos of him exiting.
Police say the two witnesses were employees from different stores. Officers say they were certain the man was carrying a rifle or assault like weapon. Police believe the witnesses are credible.
Extra police were at Valley View Mall Tuesday morning. Officers patroled when the mall opened at 7 A.M. and then again when most of the stores opened at 10 A.M. They were there to make sure everything was ok. Officers are doing periodic patrols throughout the day but are not stationed there full-time.
Police believe Monday night's response was appropriate. Captain Greg Staples of the Roanoke City Police Department told News 7 "the number of people that were at the mall, the number of potential problems, casualties, injuries we could have faced should there have been a shooting situation at the mall, there's no doubt in my mind we took the appropriate action."
It appears it was business as usual at Valley View Mall Tuesday, although mall management did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The search ended around 3 a.m. Tuesday and officers say they found nothing unusual.
The mall will go back to normal operations Tuesday and open at 7 a.m.
Officers say they checked every store after people say they saw a man with a gun inside.Police say about forty officers conducted the sweep of the mall but did not find the gunman.
Updated 10:20 pm
Police have just wrapped up a news conference outside of the mall.
Captain Greg Staples says authorities initially received two separate reports from people saying they saw a man with a gun at the mall.
Surveillance video also revealed what appeared to be a man holding something long and black.
Officer are continuing to sweep the entire mall.
They say it may take several hours.
Police say a man with a gun was seen entering Macy's department store at Valley View Mall. Three separate reports from two shoppers and one employee tipped off the police to the gunman. The first call came in around 5:00 p.m. and the evacuation is still currently going on.
Store employees at one retail store confirmed that customers were being told to leave. Another store employee tells us that the mall is on lockdown and retailers are being asked to lower the gates on their stores. Roanoke City and State Police have responded to the incident.