At least a dozen teen-related brawls broke out at malls throughout the United States on Monday night, resulting in arrests, injuries and temporary closures.
In Colorado, an estimated 500 people were involved in mayhem at the Town Center at Aurora. The matter reportedly began when off-duty police working as security arrived to break up a fight in the food court, but found themselves encircled by a crowd. As they called for backup, more fights broke out throughout the mall, movie theater, and parking area.
“As the officer was attempting to escort the arrestee to the Aurora Police Substation inside of the Town Center, the crowd continued to advance on the officer and several other fights broke out,” a press release outlined. “A citywide call for help was aired over the radio and all available APD units responded to the center.”
In Texas, a brawl erupted in the food court of Hulen Mall, with an estimated 200 youth running through the building, some screaming and taking punches at each other. Some stores closed up and went into lockdown due to the chaos.
Beachwood Place in Ohio was shut down for a time after “sizable groups of juveniles began causing a large-scale disturbance,” according to a statement from police.
“Beachwood police and mall security were able to disperse the juveniles and remove them from the mall. There were no injuries reported. One male juvenile was arrested for attempting to strike an officer that was dealing with another disorderly patron,” it outlined.
Fights also broke out in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Illinois. An estimated 15 fights were reported nationwide.
“I’m still a little shaken up. I’ve never seen that many people inside brawling like that,” Alexis Malone. a worker at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Illinois, told WLS-TV. “Everyone’s pulling out their phones. I see the police rushing in. I see kids hitting each other, kids trampling each other. So, it was just madness.”
Police state that over 1,000 shoppers were in the vicinity of the chaos at Fox Valley, prompting them to evacuate for safety reasons.
In Tennessee, some shoppers at Hamilton Place Mall were knocked to the floor as patrons ran for their lives after hearing what they thought was gunfire. The sound turned out to be firecrackers, which had been set off inside of the store Pink.
“Our investigation concluded that it was perpetrated [by] a group of individuals who were setting off fireworks, possibly to cover-up the actions of a shoplifting crime,” Chattanooga Police Department spokesman Rob Simmons said in a statement. “We have had reports of injuries due to their negligence.”
Police are still looking into the possibility that some of the fights were organized or encouraged on social media. Witnesses whipped out their phones and posted footage of the brawls online, some with messages that seemed to take delight in the fights, such as “wild for this one.”