Daily Mail reports:
Malls across America descended into chaos and violence on Monday as bargain-hungry shoppers engaged in mass brawls, fought in food courts and – in one instance – led to a SWAT team being deployed.
Fights were reported across the country, with instances at malls in Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, Connecticut and New York. Many saw fights taking place in food courts, and incorrect reports of gunfire. Many involved teens or juveniles.
One incident, at The Mills in Jersey Gardens, New Jersey, saw 48,000 people fleeing after a fight culminated in a loud bang and a person shouting ‘shots fired’ at around 5pm.
Video shows corridors packed with panicking customers trying to escape the mall as heavily armed police in body armor arrive at the scene to sweep the area for suspects, Pix11 reported.
Law enforcement is suggesting that at least one of the incidents may have been organized on social media.
Video shows cops with riot shields and assault rifles heading into the mall, while staff tell customers to get back from windows.
In one video, a man is heard should that there is a ‘gun over there’, although no weapons were found. The sound of a gunshot was actually a chair being thrown, police later said.
The fleeing shoppers snarled up traffic outside the building, delaying NJ transit buses to the mall by up to an hour.
Eight people were injured in the fight and subsequent stampede, but no one was arrested. The mall will reopen Tuesday.
In Aurora, Illinois, the Fox Valley Mall was evacuated when several fights broke out between customers.
Footage shows security guards struggling to separate dozens of people – apparently youths – near a food court.
They are surrounded by a large ring of spectators – which according to police numbered as many as 1,000 people. In the end 75 police officers were deployed and seven juveniles arrested.
‘I’m still a little shaken up. I’ve never seen that many people inside brawling like that,’ mall worker Alexis Malone, who was working inside the mall, told ABC 7 Chicago.
In another video groups of youths run down an ‘up’ escalator, though whether they are rushing to or from a fight is unclear.
According to ABC 7, the mall had to be closed until Tuesday morning. The reason for the fight was ‘unclear’, it said. Its not known how many people were hurt.
At another Aurora – Colorado – the Aurora Mall was closed and evacuated after several large fights ‘involving juveniles’, according to police.
No customers or officers were hurt, but one Twitter users accused police of using excessive force, dragging a girl by her hair and tackling harmless youths.
‘The kids were talking to the mall cops about a friend,’ said Lala Muniz. ‘and next thing you know 9-10 aurora police come running outside from the mall and…’
Her statement broke off there, but later she tweeted: ‘Stop saying the kids were in the mall fighting, stop saying the kids were shooting because it’s all bs.
‘[It was] the teens that the police attacked.’
No one was seriously injured but five young people were arrested during the disturbance, Sergeant Chris Amsler said.
‘As the officer was attempting to escort the arrestee to the Aurora Police Substation inside of the Town Centre, the crowd continued to advance on the officer and several other fights broke out,’ he said.
Police said they suspect postings on social media drew more people to the site.
‘The crowd grew in size to approximately 500 people (mostly juveniles),’ Sgt. Amsler said.
Authorities shut down the mall as dozens of officers converged on the scene and worked to restore order. Sgt Amsler said fights continued as the crowd moved into the car parks.
Five people were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction and resisting arrest.
In Beechwood, Ohio, a juvenile was arrested for hitting a police officer after police used pepper spray to break up a fight that started about 6:30pm near a food court.
Crowds were seen falling over themselves in a stampede towards the exits at the Beechwood Place mall, which went into lockdown as police investigated.
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.
John Boyd, the 19-year-old who was hit with pepper spray, described the sensation to Cleveland.com.
‘My face burned… it went into my skin,’ Boyd said. ‘My whole body burned.’
It wasn’t clear what caused the fight, but police told USA Today that the incident had apparently been ‘loosely organized on social media’.
In Tempe, Arizona, shots were reported fired at Arizona Mills Mall, which was put on lockdown.
Fights broke out in the food court and outside Legoland, according to ABC 15, and loud noises that were believed to be gunfire led to crowds running for exits. Police confirmed no shots had been fired.
Two were arrested, one a juvenile, police said.
Memphis police were called out to two incidents on Monday – one at the Oak Court Mall and one at the Wolfchase Galleria, according to Fox 13.
Police were sent to Wolfchase at around 6:30pm, after reports of crowds of people running through the building.
Again, the incident occurred near a food court and again there were reports – but no evidence – of shots being fired. No injuries were reported.
‘Several unruly juveniles and adults’ were cleared from the scene, police said.
The second incident occurred shortly after 7pm, when police were called out to Oak Court Mall after further reports of shots being fired.
Once again, police who were on the scene said nobody fired a gun. The crowds were dispersed and the mall closed early. No injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Texas, Hulen Mall was locked down after 100-150 students reportedly gathered and began fighting, requiring 60 officers to break up the fights.
There were no injuries and no damage to property. The youths were taken outside and picked up by their parents, the Star-Telegram reported.
Again, gunshots were reported but no weapons were found at the site.
In Nassau County, New York, seven people were injured after a fight in the Roosevelt Field Mall food court.
Someone also shouted that they’d seen a gun, causing a stampede.
No weapons were found and no arrests made, police said. More than 709 calls were made to authorities.
The mall will reopen Tuesday.
The Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was also evacuated after a fight. Again, some claimed that shots were fired, but no evidence of that was found.
Witness Hannah Pritchard told WRAL-TV that she was leaving a store with her boyfriend when she saw police inside the mall among hundreds of shoppers.
She says that she saw a man being handcuffed, and she and her boyfriend quickly left. She described the situation as scary.
In Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis, several juveniles were arrested after multiple fights broke out among ‘around a hundred teens’ at around 8pm, The Indy Channel reported.
Indianapolis police said they had not found any evidence that the fights – one of which broke out while police were ending another fight – were organized online.
There were also rumors that someone had fired multiple shots into the air outside in the parking lot, although police said there was no evidence of that occurring.
And a fight at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills mall in Manchester, Connecticut, led to the mall being evacuated around 5:30pm, according to police.
Video shows boys throwing swift jabs at one another while other youths crowd around to watch.
‘Up to ten’ teenagers were involved in the fights, according to police. One police officer was assaulted while trying to break up one of the first fights, authorities said, but didn’t seek medical attention.
There were several hundred teens in the mall when the fights broke out, and several were arrested, Manchester police Captain Chris Davis said on Twitter.
There were no weapons involved and no sign that the fight was gang related, police said.
It’s not known whether the rash of incidents across the country were coordinated in any way, or were just coincidental.