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Mother searches for men who helped hide daughter, friends during Lenox Square gunfire

A mother hopes to thank two men for their selfless acts of heroism at a time when many others were running to protect themselves.

ATLANTA — Atlanta police continued, Monday, to try to identify and then find the person who shot a gun inside Lenox Square Mall Saturday--shooting the gun accidentally, they believe.  As of Monday, police had not released a description of the person.

And the mother of a 13-year-old girl is looking for two men who were at the mall, to thank them for potentially putting themselves in harm’s way to protect her daughter and her friends during those frightening minutes when no one was sure if a gunman was shooting people at random.

This was the seventh time this year when gunfire has erupted inside Lenox Square Mall.

Once again, everyone was running for cover fearing the worst, including 13 year old Riley Britton and her two girlfriends, ages 13 and 14, and the little brother of one of the friends.

At that moment, the children had become separated from the friend's mom who had taken them all to the mall.

“We heard two gunshots, and then we just heard people screaming,” Riley told 11Alive on Monday. "We were all really scared."

Riley and her friends took each other’s hands and ran. 

No one knew, yet, if a gunman was looking for people to shoot. The children found a storage closet in the back of a store, where two men were already hiding behind some boxes and some clothing.

“They (the two men) saw all of us," Riley said, "and then they were hiding behind boxes at first, and then they saw us and then they threw the boxes they were hiding behind in front of us, and threw all this stuff on us, and put themselves after us...to hide us...to protect us.”

And that’s where Riley and her friends and other customers hid, until they heard the all-clear.

"And then when we walked out," Riley said, "there were these police with AR-15s, just running around looking around for him."

Riley’s mom, Mandy Britton, wrote on Facebook how she hopes the two men who helped would come forward, now, and contact her.

She wrote, in part, "....when the shooting took place...(the children) went to hide in an employee storage room while the chaos was going on... two men threw clothes on top of them (to hide them)... trying to calm them down... THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. They selflessly tried to protect our babies while trying to comfort them.”

“I just really wanted to thank those two men in particular," Mandy said Monday, "but (also) every other person out there that went out of their way to help, when they weren't quite sure what was going on."

“I just want to say thank you for helping us and for trying to protect everybody,” Riley said.