Teen connected to deadly Mall of America shooting takes witness stand

For the very first time, we are hearing direct witness testimony and seeing surveillance video from inside the Mall of America's Nordstrom store at the time of a deadly shooting last December.

Nineteen-year-old Johntae Hudson was killed two days before Christmas. On Tuesday, one of the young men charged in connection to the slaying took the witness stand in his own defense.

Hudson was shot eight times during the busy holiday season in a frightening confrontation between armed young men involving multiple firearms, inside the country’s biggest shopping center.

On trial in Hennepin County juvenile court is a 17-year-old who was captured on Nordstrom and mall surveillance video tackling Hudson.

Hudson, who was armed himself, would get off a couple of rounds as two of the teen’s companions, Lavon Longstreet and Taeshawn Adams-Wright allegedly stepped up, and opened fire.

Hudson was killed, shot in his back as he lay face down on the floor after being tackled.

Prosecutors recently reduced the charges against the teen, who testified he was a football player at Minneapolis North High School, to gross misdemeanor rioting, explaining there is no evidence the young man knew his associates were armed. It is a decision that does not sit well with Hudson’s parents.

"I call that aiding and abetting because he tackled my son. He basically held my son there until they came to shoot him," explained Lynn Hudson, Johntae’s mother.

The mall security video captures most of the confrontation with Christmas decorations hung and innocent shoppers getting last-minute gifts nearby including one mother, who apparently suffered a graze wound from flying rounds.

The young defendant, who was not armed, told the court during his testimony that there were at least four guns inside the mall on December 23rd in the escalating confrontation that came to a tragic end at Nordstrom.

Mall officials did not respond to FOX 9’s request for comment about ongoing security concerns raised at the trial.

"I feel like they should put in metal detectors to protect people's lives so this won't happen to another mother or another family," commented Lynn Hudson, who sat through all of the witness and video evidence.

MOA’s communications team has invited FOX 9 cameras inside the retail behemoth in the past to witness what the mall calls its "multi-layered" approach to security. Officials have claimed it is "industry-leading."

Murder trials for accused gunmen and codefendants, Longstreet and Adams-Wright are on the court calendar for February 2024.