Taunton stabbing
Police respond to multiple stabbings in a shopping mall in Taunton, Massachusetts, 11 May, 2016. @MACE via Twitter

A man was shot dead by police in a shopping mall after he fatally stabbed two people in two bloody rampages in the small Massachusetts town of Taunton. Four others were injured.

"Tragedy hit hard this evening," said Taunton Mayor Tom Hoye. "Hopefully we can make some sense of this."

The series of attacks began Tuesday evening (10 May) when Arthur Darosa, 28, of Taunton, crashed his car outside the home of an elderly woman and her daughter. He entered the house and stabbed them both, killing the 80-year-old woman and critically injuring her daughter, reported WHDH-TV.

He then fled in a stolen car to crash into a local Macy's department store. He dashed into the Silver City Galleria shopping mall, where Macy's is located, and assaulted "multiple" people, police said, He then entered a restaurant where he stabbed four people, killing a 56-year-old man.

An off-duty Plymouth County sheriff's deputy, who happened to be on the scene at the time, fatally shot the attacker after Darosa ignored his order to drop his weapon. The victims were immediately transported to a local hospital and the mall was evacuated.

There was complete pandemonium in the mall during Darosa's rampage. One witness tweeted: "I heard shots and saw cops loading AR-15s and I ran for my life."

"But for the actions of the deputy sheriff, there may very well have been other victims," Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn told CNN.

Local, state and FBI law enforcement officials are seeking a motive in the stabbings and any relationship between the victims and Darosa.