Braintree: Witnesses Describe “Hectic Scene” During South Shore Plaza Shooting

Joseph Bognanno was at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree looking for a ring for his girlfriend when he heard a gunshot.

From the second floor near the Macy’s, the 18-year-old Braintree native started to look around with his fellow shoppers.

“You didn’t really think it was a gunshot at first, there was a lot of people and a lot of noise,” said Bognanno.

Soon after, Bognanno described a “hectic scene.” People running out of Macy’s, police officers converging on the scene.

“We made it out, no one really knew what was going on,” said Bognanno. “The cops were like “oh if you see someone, tell them to leave.’” Me and some other people were just telling people to leave. More staties started coming and started pushing everyone out and back.”

Quincy native Sami Derbel was at LensCrafters in Macy’s when the chaos broke out. He did not hear gunshots, but saw a flood of people running.

“They said ‘shooter,’ so first thing I did was just start running outside,” said Derbel, shivering without a jacket in the cold. “I went to the central mall, and started screaming ‘shooter.’ Telling people ‘Get out, get out.’ I just booked all the way to the garage. I hid with a couple people for a while, maybe five ten minutes, then made my way back here.”

Iris Busch of Randolph was shopping for a friend’s wedding on Saturday evening. After a trip to Macy’s and the food court, they were in Sears when workers started to lock down the store.

“The workers were saying to get down, and said shots were being fired,” said Busch. “First the guy said it was fireworks. There are no fireworks going on. This has to be the real thing. So they started locking up the doors.”

Roughly an hour and a half later, Busch was out of the mall near the Cheesecake Factory.

Glancing over at her sister, Busch said with a laugh, “it’s her fault, she wanted a comforter set on sale for thirty dollars.”

“But I’m glad we’re all safe. We all made it out.”

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About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. Lenny has won two Edward R. Murrow awards for breaking news coverage, and a Mass. Broadcasters Award in the sports feature category. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny now lives in Rockland. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at