Police made overnight arrests near the South Shore Plaza in Braintree and seized a vehicle that contained smoke grenades after authorities were alerted Monday night to social media posts about planned looting at the shopping center, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Braintree police provided information via Facebook about the incident.
In one Facebook message around 8:30 p.m. Monday, cops flagged the online postings and warned people to avoid the mall area.
“Due to numerous social media posts planning to loot the South Shore Plaza, a heavy police presence was shown today and will continue this evening,” Braintree police wrote. “The mall is now closed. Anyone on the property without a legitimate reason will be asked to leave. ... Do not come down here.”
Then around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, police provided information on the arrests and the vehicle with the grenades.
“We had a handful of arrests on the evening shift for refusing to leave, and failure to stop for police,” police wrote. “One vehicle fled the plaza, crashed through the fence separating Flaherty School and was apprehended by Randolph Police and MSP after a pursuit into Stoughton. It was reported the vehicle contained smoke grenades and commercial grade fireworks.”
Randolph police in a separate statement identified the driver as Wesley Goodman, 20, of Randolph. It wasn’t clear if Goodman had hired a lawyer.
He faces several charges including failure to stop for police; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license; operation of an unregistered motor vehicle; operation of an uninsured motor vehicle; number plate violation, attaching plates; unlawful possession of fireworks; speeding; failure to stop at a stop sign; operating to endanger, and malicious destruction of property over $250, the statement said.
“After refusing to stop and fleeing from officers, the driver of a gray Nissan Altima, later identified as Goodman, drove his vehicle through a wooded area and fence abutting the Flaherty Elementary School property in order to flee from police,” Randolph police said. “Braintree officers called off their brief pursuit and notified area police departments to be on the lookout for the vehicle, which had sustained front-end damage, had its rear bumper hanging off and had a flat tire as a result of driving through the wooded area.”
A Randolph police officer patrolling North Main Street later spotted a Nissan Altima with heavy damage matching the description put out by Braintree cops, the Randolph officials’ statement said.
“The officer pulled behind the vehicle and activated his siren and lights and attempted to stop the driver,” the statement said. “Goodman allegedly refused to stop and drove through a red light at the intersection of North Main Street and Scanlon Drive. Goodman continued to flee down North Main Street, swerving around other vehicles. Officers pursued Goodman as he traveled into Avon onto Harrison Boulevard and eventually onto Route 24 Northbound.”
Goodman began to slow down on the highway, since his right front tire was damaged, police said.
“Several State Police troopers joined in on the pursuit and were able to box in Goodman’s vehicle just after Exit 20B in the breakdown lane where he came to stop,” Randolph police said. “Goodman was placed under arrest without further incident. After detaining and speaking with three passengers in the vehicle, a male and two females, it was determined that Goodman was acting on his own and the others were released. In a search of the vehicle, officers located a large amount of fireworks in the trunk, which were seized by police.”
Protests and looting have been reported in cities across the US amid continued outrage over the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in Minneapolis when a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck as Floyd lay handcuffed. The now-fired officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In Providence overnight Monday into early Tuesday morning, dozens of people broke into the Providence Place shopping mall, setting a police car on fire, and smashing the windows of stores they then looted.
The Providence unrest came after late-night rioting Sunday in Boston, where peaceful protests had been held throughout the day before the tumult unfolded. By Monday, Boston police had confirmed 53 people were arrested, and nine police officers were taken to the hospital in the violence that followed the demonstration, as were 18 bystanders, according to authorities.
In their Facebook posting early Tuesday morning, Braintree police thanked the Norfolk sheriff’s department for assistance during the response at the mall.
“This evening, all admin, plain clothes, and detectives reported to duty in uniform to assist patrol,” police wrote. “This proactive approach maintained a command presence in and around neighborhoods of the plaza, which contributed to those wanting to commit crime, turn around and head home. Safe Night Braintree.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Dan McGowan of the Globe Staff contributed.