HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Saturday night shooting at the Holyoke Mall left one innocent bystander dead. The suspect in this deadly incident appeared in court for the first time Monday morning.
Kenneth Santana-Rodriguez, a 23-year-old Springfield resident was arrested and charged with Murder and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail. His alleged actions on Saturday evening killed one person and caused extensive commotion at the Holyoke Mall.
According to the Hampden County DA’s office, police were called to the Holyoke Mall for reports of shots fired around 7:00 Saturday evening. When they got there, they found Santana-Rodriguez at the the Touch of Beauty Hair & Nail Salon inside the mall where the deadly incident occurred.
The victim is believed to have been helping Santana-Rodriguez when another person walked into the salon. There was a confrontation between Santana-Rodriguez and that person, which quickly escalated into a shooting. The victim has been identified as 33-year-old Trung Tran of West Springfield. The DA’s office said that Tran was caught in the crossfire of that incident and died before he could be taken to the hospital.
There were more than a dozen State and Holyoke Police cruisers surrounding the mall following the shooting. Witnesses told 22News the mall quickly entered into its active-shooter response protocol, where employees and patrons shelter-in-place and hide in the back of stores.
Officers entered the salon where Santana-Rodriguez was still inside and arrested him without incident. He was in possession of a firearm when he was arrested.
Miranda Trombly of Northampton was shopping in a jewelry store with her children when she saw fellow shoppers reacting to the shooting. 22News spoke to her about 15 minutes after the incident while she was sheltering in place at that jewelry store.
“Then all of a sudden, everyone started running toward the left side of the mall, yelling there was an active shooter. So the people here, the workers, told us all to run to the back. Yeah, I was just trying to get my kids to some kind of safety, wherever, however.. as fast as I could.”
At a news conference after the shooting, Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia called the deadly incident “isolated.”
22News asked people in western Massachusetts how they were feeling following the shooting, particularly when it comes to safety at public places.
“I feel terrible about it, but I still feel safe in most of the malls around here. I know there’s violence across the country but just as an everyday thing, I don’t think about it,” said John Kras of Amherst.
Santana-Rodriguez is due back in court February 27th.