Shopper recalls chaotic moments following deadly Holyoke Mall shooting

She described those moments following the incident as confusing, chaotic, and traumatic.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 9:00 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:25 PM EST
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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - We are learning new details about Saturday night’s shooting at the Holyoke Mall that resulted in the death of an innocent bystander.

Western Mass News spoke with one West Springfield woman who told us that she was in the mall at the time of the shooting. She described those moments following the incident as confusing, chaotic, and traumatic.

“It was just really scary,” said Deja Cradle of West Springfield. “For me, I felt like it was really scary to see people run with their children.”

Cradle told Western Mass News that she was shopping with her mother in the Holyoke Mall on Saturday night when she said that employees told shoppers to evacuate immediately.

“It was mentioned on the intercom of Target that everyone had to evacuate immediately,” she recalled. “I just thought it was a fire or something, and I saw people rushing out a little bit.”

The West Springfield resident told us that she did not know what the emergency was until she and her mother got to the parking lot.

“We saw chaos in the parking lot,” Cradle said. “Nobody really knew what was going on. I heard some of the workers saying there was a fight and there was a shooting.”

Western Mass News obtained court documents which shed light into the events that claimed the life of 33-year-old Trung Tran, who authorities said was an innocent bystander that worked at the nail salon where the incident took place.

Police arrested 23-year-old Kenneth Santana-Rodriguez following the fatal shooting. On Monday, he appeared before a judge where he was charged with murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

According to the police report, the 23-year-old suspect told police that a man walked into the Touch of Beauty Hair and Nail Salon where he and his girlfriend were getting pedicures. The man began to argue with his girlfriend, and Santana-Rodriguez told police that he believed the man was his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

He then told police that the man flashed his gun in his waistband and said, quote, “You know what’s about to happen.” Then, Santana-Rodriguez told police, “It was him or me.”

In a video obtained by Western Mass News, you can see shoppers frantically running from the mall the moment the gunshots rang out.

In the midst of the chaos, Cradle said that she saw the best in fellow bystanders.

“You saw a lot of people doing a lot of good things for other people, like bringing them to their cars and stuff like that,” she told us. “But, other than that, it was very scary because, after all, that’s been going on in the country lately. You don’t know if it’s a mass shooting with how chaotic things are nowadays. So, I will say it was a traumatic experience even though we didn’t see what happened, just being in the brisk of the panic.”

During Monday morning’s arraignment, the judge entered a not guilty plea on Santana-Rodriguez’s behalf. He is being held without the right to bail.

According to the salon’s Facebook page, a GoFundMe has been set up to help Tran’s family pay for his funeral costs. If you would like to donate, you may do so HERE.