'It has to stop': Braintree mayor Charles Kokoros calls mall shooting 'unacceptable'

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BRAINTREE – The South Shore Plaza reopened Sunday after a 26-year-old Boston man was shot inside a store on the first level of the mall Saturday afternoon.

The Target store opened at its regular time of 7 a.m. Sunday, and the rest of the mall opened at noon.

Police continue to search for the shooter.

Police say a member of a gang shot a member of a rival gang inside the mall near Forever 21. The victim was taken to Boston Medical Center.

Reports from shoppers came in Saturday afternoon about gunfire at the Braintree mall at 250 Granite St.

The mall was evacuated at 4 p.m. and it remained closed for the night, police said.

Braintree Deputy Chief Tim Cohoon, Deputy Chief Michael Want and Mayor Charles Kokoros held a press conference about 5 p.m. Saturday. Cohoon said that there was an “encounter” between two males inside one of the stores. “One male produced a firearm and shot the other male,” he said.

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Cohoon said the shooter immediately left the mall and police are searching for him. He said the shooting "looks like a targeted event. It doesn't appear to be random at all."

The mall was cleared about 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

"We don't believe there's any further danger to the surrounding neighborhoods," Cohoon said.

Kokoros called the shooting, the second in as many years, "unacceptable."

"We will be working directly with the South Shore Plaza, Simon Properties to come up with solutions to these problems. It's a place that people should be able to go and shop safely. We should not have gunshots being fired while people are out shopping and enjoying a Saturday," Kokoros said.

Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey said during a 7:15 p.m. press conference Saturday that the mall remains "a very, very active crime scene." He said police are trying to determine if there is more than one person involved in the shooting.

“We don’t know if it’s suspect or suspects, we’re trying to sort that out,” Morrissey said.

The district attorney would not specify in which store the shooting happened, except that it was "not far from one of the parking garages."

Braintree Police Chief Mark Dubois said he plans to work with the mayor’s office and mall management to reevaluate mall security in the wake of the shooting. "It is a concern, obviously, that we've had several incidents down here," Dubois said.

Kokoros said he will likely meet this week with the plaza's property owners to discuss safety measures. "I've lived here my whole life. As mayor, it's very frustrating to have incidents like this occur while people are out shopping on a Saturday. It has to stop."

Shoppers reacted on social media as the incident unfolded about 3 p.m. Saturday.

"Walked out of the South Shore Plaza with Sam just in time to find out there was an active shooter where we were not five minutes before," one person posted to Twitter.

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"My girlfriend just called in a panic said cops descended on South Shore plaza and ordered her and everyone out immediately. Holy s**t. Another shooting?" said another Twitter user.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to call Braintree Police detectives at 781-794-8620 or email to tips@braintreema.gov.

South Shore Plaza on  Friday, July 3, 2020.
South Shore Plaza on Friday, July 3, 2020.

Previous South Shore Plaza shootings

Earlier this month 22-year-old Jose Rodriguez admitted to shooting a 15-year-old girl at the mall in 2020. Rodriguez admitted to charges of armed assault to murder, possession of a large-capacity firearm and numerous other firearms charges in Norfolk Superior Court, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement

The shooting took place about 4:43 p.m. July 3, 2020, in the Nordstrom wing of the mall and began as an altercation between two groups, authorities said. A 15-year-old girl standing nearby was shot in the hand and chest.

Police officers and members of a S.W.A.T. team gather outside South Shore Plaza in Braintree on July 3, 2020 following a shooting.
Police officers and members of a S.W.A.T. team gather outside South Shore Plaza in Braintree on July 3, 2020 following a shooting.

Rodriguez fled the mall on foot, but was tracked by a police K-9 team and arrested on Granite Street a short distance from the mall. The gun was recovered in a parking garage, police said.

In February 2017, shooting erupted when two members of rival Boston gangs encountered each other in the shoe department of Macy's. No one was injured, and a suspect was arrested several hours later in Quincy.

The man charged with the shooting, Michael J. Spence, of Quincy, pleaded guilty in September 2019 and was sentenced to five to six years at MCI-Cedar Junction followed by three years of probation.

After the incident, the mall stepped up security, including installing an automated phone system to notify all of its 200 stores in the event of an emergency.

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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Police: One person shot at Braintree's South Shore Plaza