BRAINTREE, Mass. —
Town officials are looking for ways to improve security at South Shore Plaza following a shooting inside a store this month.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan and Police Chief Paul Shastany are scheduled to meet privately with mall General Manager Rick Tonzi and other members of his management team today to review the Feb. 3 shooting, which took place in the shoe department of the Macy`s store and prompted a massive police response, the Patriot Ledger reported.
`It`s a serious incident and we`re treating it very seriously,` Sullivan said.
The town council`s public safety committee met Wednesday night on the same topic. Tonzi declined an invitation to attend the meeting, citing policies of mall owner Simon Property Group.
`Simon does not publicly comment on what we do and don`t do on security at South Shore Plaza,` Tonzi wrote in an email to District 1 Town Councilor Charles Kokoros, who chairs the public safety committee.
Kokoros said he was not pleased with the response.
`I think it`s a little disrespectful to the council and the committee,` he said.
Carl Johnson, a lawyer representing the mall, read a statement from Simon corporate management but said he could not take any questions.
`The safety of South Shore Plaza`s shoppers, retailers and employees is our top priority,` Johnson read. `We utilize a host of different measures to make this property as secure as possible, some publicly visible and some not.`
The statement went on to say the mall`s management has a close relationship with Braintree police and the mayor`s office.
It also holds joint training exercises with Braintree police and other law enforcement agencies `to ensure that all organizations are adequately prepared in emergency response procedures.`
Both councilors and Shastany believe the shooting, which took place around 7 p.m. on a Friday and resulted in the evacuation of the sprawling complex, is an isolated incident.
`The shooting happened to the mall. It did not happen because of the mall,` Shastany said.
The incident has been linked by investigators to Boston gang rivalries. Shastany said the mall used to be considered neutral territory by gangs, but that agreement has begun to break down.
`Wherever they encounter, that`s the venue for violence,` the chief said.
Kokoros said he would like to see more police officers and security cameras at the mall.
There are three Braintree police officers who patrol the mall, paid for by the management.
Shastany said pictures from 10 security cameras helped lead to the identification of shooting suspect Michael J. Spence Jr., 24, of Quincy on firearms charges.
No one was injured in the shooting.
The committee plans a second meeting on the incident next month.