BRAINTREE (CBS) — Police were out in force at South Shore Plaza in Braintree to investigate shots being fired in the area early Friday evening.
Braintree Police said the initial call was for shots fired in the mall. Just before 10 p.m., police announced every store employee and every shopper had been escorted out of the mall.
Earlier in the evening, Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a release numerous State Police units and Braintree Police responded to a shooting incident the South Shore Plaza mall.
Preliminary information suggests two individuals were involved in some type of altercation and shots were fired by one or both of them. At least one of them appears to have been injured. Preliminary investigation indicates that both individuals most likely ran from the mall immediately after the incident but that has not been definitively confirmed. Both individuals are at large, Procopio said in a statement.
State Police deployed numerous patrols and K-9 units to assist Braintree Police.
Police said they have recovered a gun and shell casings from the scene.
There has been a heavy police presence outside the South Shore Plaza, specifically near the entrance to Macy’s.
Authorities said there are no injured shoppers or store employees.
Police say the two people ran off after the fight. They add the fight appears to be gang-related.
“And due to tensions, it escalated into a shooting,” Braintree Police Chief Paul Shastany told reporters.
Police continue to look for those two persons.
Later Friday night, State Police spokesman Procopio updated the still-fluid situation.
It is no longer certain that either of those involved in the altercation were injured. At this time we do not know if anyone involved was injured. The participants remain at large. The incident occurred shortly before 6:50 pm in an area near an entrance to Macy’s, Procopio said.
After the shooting, police asked the public to stay away from the mall area.
A woman talked about what she heard while in the mall Friday night.
“Like people were saying, ‘What’s going on? Oh, there’s a shooter.’ And then, me and my friend, we were like ‘Oh no.’ We started like sprinting or walking out fast. So we get out to the entrance and there’s like 15-20 cruisers already outside and we see a state trooper run out with a rifle-like gun,” Brianna Pelletier said.
Braintree Police are also requesting the public’s help in their investigation.
“Never thought it would happen here, in Braintree,” one person said.
Employees and shoppers huddled together outside the South Shore Plaza, recovering from what they described as a truly terrifying few moments.
“They had us all sitting there in one spot and then we heard ‘Hands up!’ We didn’t know what was going on,” Debbie Yanowski said.
Not everyone heard the gunshot. But those who didn’t knew something was wrong as crowds ran and employees yelled for them to get out.
“We ducked and hid. There was a woman who had her little girl and we were throwing boxes on the floor trying to get her in so the little girl would be okay,”
One dad hadn’t heard from his son since school let out and he headed for the mall.
“I called him so many times and he’s not picking up. We’ve just got to wait, I guess,” Gilbert Casimir said.
With little information, he stood in the cold watching the mall exits, heavily guarded by police.
“It’s encouraging they’re here and it’s crazy. You don’t know what’s going on inside,” Casimir added.
But even those who were inside felt just as helpless.
“You always see it on the news in other states and you say God forbid it was ever here. It’s here and you don’t even know what to do or say, it’s just terrible,” Paul Matthews said.