The Mall of America shooting victim has been identified as Jonte Hudson of St. Paul
A 19-year-old St. Paul man was the victim of the fatal Christmas Eve shooting at the Mall of America following an argument between two groups of young men at Nordstrom.
Hudson’s sister Ja’Naya Hudson, 22, wrote on an online fundraising page that Jonte was “the most loving and caring person to his family and friends. He radiated positive and fun energy and his smile lit up a room.” She said he was an “overall great guy” and the family wanted to give him “the funeral he deserved”.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a news release Sunday night that Hudson died of multiple gunshot wounds shortly before 8 p.m. Friday at the Mall of America.
Saturday, Bloomington police arrested five people in the shooting, and Chief Booker Hodges said all will be charged on suspicion of second-degree murder on Tuesday. The shooting happened at Nordstrom late Friday night among last-minute Christmas shoppers. The Mall of America then went into a one-hour lockdown.
The five teenagers were arrested by SWAT officers at a home in St. Louis Park. Two are 18 years old and three are 17, Hodges said. He said one of the older men was the shooter, but that another may also have fired the shots. Police were still looking for a sixth suspect.
A tearful Hudson also spoke about her brother to KARE-11 television on Christmas Eve, saying he came to her room before leaving for the mall to greet her and her son. “He was funny, sometimes quiet … All he was loved, he was a people person, trying to find his own place and apply to college,” she said.
She told Box-11 that he was going to the mall to find shoes to match a friend’s birthday sweater and that he tried to avoid certain groups of young men. “Things happen, but he was trying to get away from it all.”
Police say the two groups of young men were involved in a physical altercation at Nordstrom, the mall’s anchor tenant, before the shooting. But police have not explained the connection between the groups or the point of contention.
“At first I was just hoping it was like a minor bullet wound or something. I didn’t think it was anything too serious until they said they were trying to find a pulse, so I just assumed the worst but hoped for the best,” Hudson told KARE-11 about getting the call that Bro. she was shot.
She urged others to “Stay away from the wrong crowds because the wrong crowds will lead you to destruction.”
Nordstrom was closed Saturday during an otherwise busy shopping day at the Mall of America. It was unclear Sunday night if the store would be open Monday.
Messages to Mall of America and Nordstrom’s corporate office were not returned Sunday. A pre-recorded message at Mall of America’s Nordstrom said the store was closed Dec. 24 and 25 and listed normal store hours.
In the past year, gun incidents have become a problem at the mall, one of the state’s top tourist destinations.
A man was shot in the leg and another was grazed by a bullet on the top third floor of the mall New Year’s Eve. An 18-year-old man later confessed to the shooting, telling police he was trying to get away from pursuers who were upset with him about an earlier incident before shooting.
A few months later, the shopping center went into operation lock for two hours when an argument between two groups of people ended with several shots being fired outside a Nike store. No injuries were reported. Weeks after, a man armed with a long gun robbed Lids store in the mall before being caught and arrested by authorities.
Writers Paul Walsh and Josie Albertson-Grove contributed to this report.
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