National

Epidemic of mall brawls spreads across country on day after Christmas

Memphis police officers block off the entrances to the Oak Court Mall on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, after a disturbance at the mall. Authorities and witnesses say there have been disturbances at two malls in Memphis, Tenn., and one of them had to be shut down.
Memphis police officers block off the entrances to the Oak Court Mall on Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, after a disturbance at the mall. Authorities and witnesses say there have been disturbances at two malls in Memphis, Tenn., and one of them had to be shut down. The Commercial Appeal/AP

Christmas might be over, but not the drama that sometimes goes with it.

And no, we’re not talking about the “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of drama. More like the kind that gets filmed on cellphones and posted to social media.

Specifically, mall brawls.

Numerous skirmishes, fights and altercations were reported across the country on the day after Christmas. Many of them had similar elements: Juvenile participants, food courts, unfounded reports of shots being fired, mandatory evacuations or people fleeing of their own accord; few or no injuries.

The Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Ill., was closed early Monday due to fighting, according to WLS-TV in Chicago; and yes, footage is available on Twitter.

Mall security contacted local police for help with an unruly crowd; and before long, a fight broke out in a food court. There were about 1,000 people around, police said, so they evacuated and closed the mall. Seven juveniles were arrested, and 75 officers form several jurisdictions responded to the fight.

This is not to be confused with the “multiple skirmishes” reported at the Town Center Aurora in Aurora, Colo., USA Today reported. Nobody was reported injured, Aurora, Colo., police said.

A brawl and possible gunfire prompted a police lockdown of Hulen Mall in southwest Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday evening, according to media and social reports.

Police said the situation was under control, NBC5 reported shortly after 8 p.m.

Parents and others on social media said a fight started not in a food court, but outside a Red Robin restaurant. The Dallas Morning News reported about 8:30 p.m. that there was a heavy police presence at the mall and that no injuries were reported.

Fort Worth police could not immediately be reached for comment.

A North Carolina mall was evacuated after a fight sent a crowd of after-Christmas shoppers fleeing.

Fayetteville Police Lt. Todd Joyce says police were called to Cross Creek Mall around 5 p.m. Monday because of a disturbance. He says some teenagers were apparently involved in a fight at the mall.

He said officers found no one injured from the altercation. He says there’s no evidence shots were fired, even though some witnesses thought they heard a gunshot. Witnesses tell media outlets that there was chaos as hundreds tried to flee the mall.

Joyce says no arrests have been made, but police are reviewing mall security video to see if charges are warranted.

He says emergency medical personnel were called to assist someone who had a medical episode while fleeing.

Meanwhile, police in Ohio say officers have used pepper spray to disperse a large crowd following a fight at an upscale shopping mall.

Cleveland.com reports the fight broke out Monday evening at Beachwood Place mall, prompting a lockdown.

Officers initially responded to the scene for a report of shots fired. Police later confirmed that there were no gunshots.

Fire officials say a man and a police officer were exposed to the pepper spray and received medical treatment. No one else was injured.

Police say a juvenile was taken into custody for assaulting a police officer.

It was not immediately clear what led to the fight.

At least seven people were injured in a fight and stampede at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., according to WLNY-TV in New York. This incident began in the food court as well, and led to more than 70 calls to 911, local authorities told CBS2. This happened about two hours after a similar event at a mall in nearby Elizabeth, N.J.

USA Today reported that police with machine guns responded to the Jersey Gardens mall incident. The mall was evacuated, and hours later, people will still trying to leave the area on New Jersey Transit buses. Reports of gunfire turned out to have been unfounded, Elizabeth’s mayor said; a chair had been thrown and hit the floor loudly.

Oak Court Mall in Memphis was also shut down after ... wait for it ... a fight in a food court, USA Today said. Witnesses said it began as an argument between a girl and her male companion and escalated when other people got involved. And that came after police went to the Wolfchase Galleria, also in Memphis, to stop another altercation that also began at a food court.

And a the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Ariz., was put on lockdown after two fights and unfounded reports of shots fired, ABC-15 Arizona reported. Two people were arrested. It is not known if the fights were connected or if they were gang-related, ABC-15 said. But USA Today said the fighting started in the food court.

The Associated Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram contributed to this report.

  Comments