Giants play-by-play caller Bob Papa recounted his harrowing experience being in the Mall of America as a shooting occurred last week.
Papa and several Giants players, staff and media were in the Bloomington, Minnesota shopping Mecca ahead of the team’s matchup with the Vikings when a shooting left 19-year-old Johntae Raymon Hudson dead after being shot multiple times. Three people, including two minors, were charged in the shooting.
“Typical mall restaurant, people are waiting outside for a table to open up,” Papa told Jerry Recco and Sal Licata, filling in on WFAN’s morning show for Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gianotti. “All of a sudden…the restaurant is really crowded…the waitress came over and said, ‘there was a shooting, the mall is in complete lockdown.’”
Papa was with ex-Giants tight end and current broadcaster Howard Cross, as well as longtime Giants reporter John Schmeelk at the Twin Cities Grill, where they waited out the nerve-wracking scene.
“Howard Cross and I started coming up with a game plan of what we were gonna do, because we didn’t know what was happening, if it was an isolated incident or if it was a mass shooting,” Papa said. “It was pretty scary for about an hour until we got out of there.
While Papa’s goal was to stay as far away from the entrance as possible, several within the eatery attempted to look out the front window for a glimpse of any action.
“There was no exit,” he said. “We had just finished our meal, they were starting to bus the table and Cross was like, ‘I’m keeping the steak knife.’ So we grab that and then he started determining which tables we were gonna flip and get behind. And then I noticed that there was a little waiter stand in the back of the restaurant in this small little room with benches and stuff in front of it, I’m like, ‘Cross, I’m crawling in there.’ It was pretty tense there for a while.”
Papa tweeted during the ordeal, providing a live update of the situation.
“Scary here @mallofamerica. Shooting in mall. On lockdown at #TwinCitiesGrill. Two gunmen at least one victim,” he wrote, adding an hour later he was safe at his hotel offered “prayers to victim.