Seven detained after mall brawl

Police say fight was gang-related

Staff WriterJuly 28, 2008 

— Shoppers strolled peacefully through Triangle Town Center on Sunday after a Saturday night brawl involving hundreds closed the mall early.

It took police officers from three agencies an hour to evacuate the mall and fully restore order after the fight in which seven teens were detained, a 15-year-old was stabbed and a police officer injured.

Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said the brawl was a gang-related incident and that some of those involved have known gang associations. He declined to say whether those arrested are gang members.

According to Sughrue and arrest warrants, those arrested are:

* Tyrell Eugene Brantley, 18, 1609 E. Lenoir St., charged with inciting a riot and disorderly conduct, $5,000 bond;

* Darryl Anthony Bobbitt, 18, 1411 E. Lenoir St., charged with inciting a riot, second-degree trespassing and resisting an officer, $5,000 bond;

* Christopher James Gamble, 17, 4031 Northstone Drive, Apt. 102, charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and inciting a riot, $35,000 bond;

* Laquavis O'Neal Jordan, 16, 1701 E. Lenoir St., charged with inciting a riot; released on $5,000 bond;

* Ricky Ladd Williams, 16, 3321-101 Quail Ridge Road, charged with inciting a riot; engaging in an affray; held on $10,000 bond;

* Javonnie Nicholson, 16, 512 Bradkin Court, charged with inciting a riot, misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer, second-degree trespassing, $7,000 bond.

Nicholson is the lone female charged in the fracas. Police also are filing a juvenile petition against an unnamed 15-year-old who was also detained.

In a news release, police said some of the people involved are known to be associated with gangs and that the fight started as a gang-related incident. They didn't, however, name which gangs may have been involved. A bond sheet for Williams says he has a recent conviction for conspiracy to commit armed robbery "with gang conditions."

Sughrue said more arrests are possible if police are able to identify others who were involved.

Four off-duty Raleigh officers were working security at the mall on Saturday when the fight started around 8 p.m. in the upper-level, above the food court. As many as 200 to 300 people were associated with the fracas, police said.

Police described a chaotic scene as more officers rushed to the mall to assist with evacuation of shoppers frightened by the uproar.

The fight spilled outside as police worked to disperse the crowd.

Security closed the mall at 8:40 p.m -- 20 minutes early. Raleigh, Wake County and Highway Patrol officers secured the scene about 9 p.m., according to a police news release.

Gamble was charged with the stabbing of a 15-year-old male in the buttocks with a 5-inch "butterfly" knife during an altercation outside the mall.

The victim was taken to WakeMed Raleigh Campus, and his wounds are not life-threatening, police said.

A Raleigh police officer received a significant laceration on his knee and had to be taken to Duke Health Raleigh Hospital. Sughrue said the officer's injury occurred while he was chasing a suspect, not as the result of an assault. He's expected to recover.

Jack Love, general manager at Triangle Town Center, said the mall is constantly reviewing its security.

He declined to answer specific questions about the fight or discuss mall security practices. "We are a public place, and incidents happen from time to time," Love said.

Heather Tant, who works at a shoe kiosk near the mall's lower food court, said she was working Saturday night when police started arriving.

"A bunch of cops were pouring in here," Tant said. "They were yelling 'get out of the mall.' "

Tant didn't see the fight but was scared, she said. She hurriedly put her cash drawer in the safe and went out to the parking lot.

Occasionally there are fights at Triangle Town Center, said Tant, 18, a Wake Technical Community College student. Groups of young people sometimes get into shouting matches that are broken up by mall security, she said. She was a little skeptical that gangs were roving the mall.

"Just because they dress alike doesn't really mean anything," she said.

Police use two terms to talk about crimes and gangs.

Raleigh police use "gang related" to describe an incident "... to further the purposes of the gang. Examples would include establishing a gang's territory, gaining influence by suppressing another gang, or seeking revenge against another gang."

The other term is "gang involved." Typically people in those incidents are gang members or have significant ties to gang members, but the crimes themselves are not committed on behalf of gangs.

Sughrue, the police spokesman, said the examples above are just illustrations and that he was not at liberty to say what led police to classify the mall fight as "gang related."

(Staff writers Sam LaGrone and Kristin Butler contributed to this story.)

samuel.spies@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-2014

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