A woman was fatally stabbed this afternoon in the Sears store at McKinley Mall, said Hamburg Police Chief Gregory Wickett.
Police and paramedics administered first aid to the victim, who they found alive but unconscious, but were not able save her, Wickett said.
Police were looking for a male assailant, who fled the store by car. Authorities believe the two knew each other.
The woman, who had not been identified, was stabbed in the children's department during a commotion witnessed by several people, police said.
Police were called to the store at 1:45 p.m.
"There were several witnesses, and we believe at this time that the victim knew the assailant," Wickett said.
Police said the store's surveillance video should help their investigation.
"So we have some good leads that we're working on and we're going forward with those," Wickett said.
Police were searching her car this afternoon.
A shopper said he saw three police cars, two ambulances and a paramedic vehicle on the scene, in addition to an Erie County Sheriff's helicopter circling overhead. Patrons were not being allowed onto the mall property, he said.
An employee at New York & Co. within the mall said Sears went into lockdown mode immediately after the incident, and a security guard ran from store to store, informing other employees.
An outgoing voice message on Sears' telephone system said the store was closed and would reopen Thursday during regular business hours.
Hours after the stabbing, mall patrons Donald and Jacquie Block of Cheektowaga rolled into the mall parking lot and were bewildered by the presence of police cars and media outside the Sears store.
The couple was shocked to learn of the fatal stabbing happening in such a public place, and in broad daylight.
"We just dropped our son off to work," said Jaquie Block.
"With my son working across the street and us shopping regularly at Sears, you kind of wonder where you're safe at any more," she added.
Earlier this month, a pedestrian was struck and killed in the mall's parking lot outside the Savers store. The car had lost control on the mall's ring road, struck a curb, hit a tree, then crashed into a parked vehicle next to which the elderly man was standing.
In March, a fire broke out in the mall's New York & Co. store. No one was injured, but the store was closed for weeks.
Mall manager Jeff Ohle could not immediately be reached for comment.