South Shore Plaza

Man Who Opened Fire Inside South Shore Plaza, Wounding Teen Girl, Pleads Guilty

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey calling the incident "an outrageously reckless and dangerous act"

A man who fired a gun inside a suburban Boston mall in 2020, striking a 15-year-old bystander twice and sending panicked shoppers fleeing from the building, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that 22-year-old Jose Rodriguez was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to armed assault with intent to murder and other charges in the July 3, 2020, shooting at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree.

Prosecutors said the shooting stemmed from a dispute with another group in line at a store. A 15-year-old girl, an innocent bystander, survived being struck in the chest and hand.

"This defendant punched a woman in line at a store, causing an altercation between parties. He stepped away, retrieved the loaded firearm he was carrying and fired six times in the thick of the mall," Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement, calling it "an outrageously reckless and dangerous act."

A man arrested in connection with Friday's shooting at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree, Massachusetts, was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Monday.

The shooting was the second at the mall in three years, prompting Braintree's mayor and police department to discuss enhanced security measures with the mall's general manager.

"There will be many improvements that you may or may not see, but will be there to protect the public while they're shopping," Mayor Charles Kokoros said at the time.

Officers swarmed the mall after receiving reports of shots fired shortly after 4:30 p.m. on a Friday. Court documents described a chaotic scene inside the mall, with panicked crowds fleeing a Nordstrom, where an officer saw blood and broken glass on the second floor.

Eyewitness accounts said two women were in line at the Expressions shoe store when a man, later identified as Rodriguez, walked up to one of them and asked one of the women if she was associated with the Heath Street gang in Boston. When she didn't answer, he allegedly punched the woman in the face. A fight then broke out between two groups of people and Rodriguez allegedly pulled out a gun and fired several shots.

Two people are in police custody following a shooting at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree on Saturday.

Police said the woman later admitted that she was associated with the Heath Street gang.

A 15-year-old girl was shot during the incident and was taken to a nearby hospital. According to police, the teen was not involved in the incident. Her injuries were not life-threatening. Court documents said she broke her right hand as a result of being shot and was also grazed in the chest by a bullet.

In the aftermath of the fight and subsequent shooting, police said videos began circulating on social media showing the fight and Rodriguez retrieving and raising a firearm, along with audio consistent with that of a gunshot.

Braintree police said two men, one of whom they identified as Rodriguez, fled the mall on foot but were taken into custody a short distance away after an extensive search involving police dogs. Mall surveillance video captured Rodriguez running out of the South Shore Plaza immediately after the shooting, clutching a bulge in his waistline with his right hand.

Police found a gun in bushes outside the plaza, and six shell casings were recovered at the scene of the shooting.

In July 2017, the Braintree mall was also put on lockdown and evacuated. Authorities said at the time that incident appeared to be related to gang activity, with two gang members happening to cross paths inside of Macy's.

NBC/The Associated Press
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