BRAINTREE (CBS) – Two suspects are in custody after a 15-year-old girl was shot at South Shore Plaza on Friday afternoon, throwing the entire mall into a lockdown.
Police searched for the suspects, who fled on foot, while warning residents in neighborhoods near the mall to shelter in place.
The victim’s injuries are not life-threatening. She was transported to an area hospital by ambulance. According to police, the girl was an innocent bystander.
The shooting seems to have started as a fight between two groups. The shooting happened in the mall hallway outside Nordstrom’s. The 15-year-old victim, who police said was an innocent bystander, was not near the scene of the fight when she was hit.
Police said they believe the shooting was a targeted event and not an active shooter situation.
“We don’t believe this was a random act, said Braintree Deputy Chief Michael Want. He said the two male suspects were caught a “short distance away” from the mall about two hours after the shooting.
Braintree Police Chief Mark Dubois said he did not know what the fight was about, but think that about six or seven people involved in the fight.
“Part of the investigation is we’re going to try to ID everybody that was involved in the fight,” he said.
NEW: Braintree police chief says two suspects are in custody after shooting at South Shore Plazs because BOTH fired shots at each other. The victim, a 15 year old girl, was an innocent bystander. #WBZ pic.twitter.com/GZOXynppsH
— Kristina Rex (@KristinaRex) July 4, 2020
A witness, who spoke to WBZ-TV by phone while hiding in the break room of a store, said she saw a group of people fighting and then the fight broke up. She said two minutes later, one person fired shots towards the area of Nordstrom.
“I was in the dressing room for a good probably eight minutes. A little less than ten. Then I heard a lady come walking through. And so then I came out, poked my head out, and she said, ‘Go out the side door.’ I never experienced anything like this in my entire life. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my entire life. To see people run the way they did. But they were yelling for everybody to leave, to get out,” said shopper Sharon Lee.
“I just looked up from the rack and saw people start running from the mall into Macy’s and then more people, and then someone who was running was yelling, ‘Someone is shooting.” And then you just turn around and run. I ran with a dad who was running with his kid who just said, ‘Let’s go this way. We are going this way.’ Everybody was just panicked, trying to figure out how to get out of the mall and what’s happening and what’s going on,” said witness Wes Ritchie.
Dubois said that police were still searching each store and notifying people that it was safe to come out late into the evening. Police announced the mall was emptied just before 10 p.m. Some people spent three hours on lockdown.
“I think people did a very good job of securing all their stores and hiding safely until the police response,” Dubois said.
Police began to reunite people around 6:30 p.m. and the shelter in place in neighborhoods around the mall was lifted. MBTA buses arrived and were parked at the gates of the Flaherty School for families looking for loved ones.
Police have not released the identity of the suspects or the charges they will be facing, but did say that they were 20 and 21 years old.
South Shore Plaza will reopen Saturday at 11 a.m.