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Bullet grazed chest of 15-year-old girl in South Shore Plaza shooting; suspect arraigned

An ambulance arrives to South Shore Plaza. A 15-year-old girl was shot at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree on Friday afternoon.
An ambulance arrives to South Shore Plaza. A 15-year-old girl was shot at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree on Friday afternoon.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

A man who allegedly shot a 15-year-old girl after a brawl broke out at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree Friday afternoon pleaded not-guilty at his arraignment Monday as new details emerged about the case.

Jose R. Rodriguez, 21, of Roxbury, allegedly opened fire inside the mall at 4:33 p.m., according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office and a Braintree police report filed in court. A “large brawl” had broken out between two groups at an Expressions store in the building’s Nordstrom wing before Rodriguez allegedly pulled out a handgun and opened fire, officials said.

The 15-year-old girl, who was found by police huddled in a second-floor bathroom in the Nordstrom store bleeding from her wounds, suffered a 2.5 centimeter graze wound to her chest and a 7 centimeter wound on her right hand, where she also suffered a fracture during the gunfire, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney John Looney said during the virtual arraignment.

The girl, whose name was not released, was taken to Boston Medical Center, where she was interviewed by police in the company of her parents by Braintree police, Braintree Police Detective John Connolly wrote in a report filed in the Quincy court. Looney called her an “innocent bystander.”

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“In speaking with Juvenile, it was apparent that she was not involved with, nor knew, any of the individuals involved in this incident,‘' Connolly wrote. “Rather, she was merely a 15-year-old girl spending time at a local mall.”

Braintree Mayor Charles C. Kokoros said at a news conference Monday that he had spoken with the victim “and let her know that the Town of Braintree wishes her a speedy recovery.”

“I wanted to take a moment and reach out to her because obviously at 15 years old, this is traumatic,” he said. “Being a father of two, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through that, both her or her family.”

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Kokoros said he met with the mall’s general manager Monday to discuss security and pushed for enhanced measures, but he declined to describe what new procedures they were negotiating.

“We don’t want to give criminals our game plan here,” he said, though he went on to discuss the placement of additional video cameras at the mall.

He added later, “If you’re a bad guy, don’t come to the plaza, because we’re going to catch you.”

Braintree Police Deputy Chief Michael Want said officers had arrived at the scene less than 5 minutes after the shooting. Both surveillance cameras and cellphone from the shooting has been helpful in their investigation, he said.

“When you go to court and you have video footage, it does eliminate a lot of the doubt,” Want said at the news conference.

According to authorities, the violence allegedly began while Rodriguez and others were standing at the checkout line at Expressions as a second group of three womenwaited behind them.

Rodriguez allegedly turned to the women and asked them, “aren’t you from Heath Street?,” an apparent reference to the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments in Jamaica Plain, formerly known as the Bromley-Heath development. Rodriguez is a resident of the Mission Hill housing development, according to court records.

The women responded to Rodriguez — who was with three other men and a woman pushing a child in a baby carriage — by saying they did not want to talk with him.

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“At one point all of a sudden, Mr. Rodriguez punched a woman who was standing in line, resulting in a large brawl,‘' Looney said.

The women later told police all three of them participated in the brawl with Rodriguez and two other men. The woman who was punched later identified herself to police “as being associated with Heath Street,‘' Connolly wrote.

The women told police they did not know Rodriguez or the people who were with him.

Looney said the brawl was broken up and as Rodriguez was leaving the area, he allegedly opened fired with a 9mm handgun, firing at least six shots that missed his intended target but did strike the girl.

Rodriguez and another suspect allegedly fled the scene after the shooting, which sent the mall into lockdown, officials said. Neighborhoods near the mall were also told to shelter in place while police searched for the suspects.

Rodriguez was allegedly seen stashing a fanny pack into a bush next to a parking garage as he was running from the scene, officials said. Police later recovered the fanny pack from the bush and found a loaded Taurus brand handgun with a 9mm round in the chamber and a magazine inside of it, authorities said.

Neighbors on Granite Street in Braintree told police they saw two men running through backyards in the area after the incident. At 6:12 p.m., a police dog was sent into the woods where police suspected Rodrigue was hiding near 485 Granite St., about a half mile from the plaza, prosecutors said.

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“Sometime around 6:12p.m., a Braintree Police K9 located and introduced itself to Jose Rodriguez in the woodline across from 485 Granite Street, which resulted in minor injuries” to Rodriguez, who was taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. He was treated and released, police said.

Rodriguez was arrested and charged with assault to murder, assault and battery on a child with substantial injuries, reckless endangerment of a child, assault and battery with a firearm, and multiple firearm violations.

He is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Friday.

Rodriguez was out on bail from a pending criminal case in Roxbury Municipal Court, where he was charged with endangering a child and motor vehicle violations in 2019. He had no other criminal cases as an adult, according to Looney.

A second man who was also taken into custody with Rodriguez Friday has been released without charges being filed against him.

The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

Globe Staff reporters John R. Ellement and Felicia Gans contributed to this report.