Fights break out at malls across United States
Disturbances that included gunfire, massive brawls and food-court fights played out at more than a dozen malls across the country in what proved to be a chaotic day after Christmas.
The disturbances, some of which were captured on social media, prevented some shoppers from clearing off clearance racks and returning Christmas gifts as they intended.
The mall incidents, which ranged from minor melees to mass evacuations, occurred nationwide from Colorado to Tennessee, Texas to New Jersey. Here’s what happened at six of those malls.
Multiple people were arrested following incidents at both Wolfchase Galleria and Oak Court Mall Monday night.
One woman was taken into custody at Oak Court while several others were arrested at Wolfchase.
According to Memphis Police, it all started when a large group of people started a disturbance inside Wolfchase Galleria around 6:30 p.m.
Several people called 911 reporting gunshots had been fired. However, several officers on the scene confirmed that was not true.
Several minutes later, a similar incident happened at Oak Court Mall. Again, no shots were fired.
No injuries have been reported at either scene.
It all started with a social media post that promised a fight at the Town Center at Aurora.
Aurora Police Department spokesman Sgt. Chris Amsler said about 100 people had gathered in the food court before the brawls broke out — prompting the Colorado mall to close early on Monday afternoon..
“(It) kind of morphed into this large disturbance,” Amsler said.
When off-duty police officers working as security guards tried to break up a fight, people circled the officers, who called for backup, Amsler said.
As police officers on duty arrived, fights broke out throughout the mall, at a movie theater and at a nearby park-and-ride lot, he said.
He estimated 500 people were involved. Authorities arrested five people, all juveniles, and recovered no weapons, he said. One person assaulted at the park-and-ride lot suffered “significant” injuries and was taken to a hospital, Amsler said.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, people panicked after teenagers fought in the food court, Fayetteville police spokesman Shawn Strepay told CNN affiliate WRAL. No shots were fired, despite reports of gunfire, Strepay said.
“Once people start running in that area or chairs are getting knocked over, tables, that sort of thing, that echoes and it could resemble the sound of a gunshot to a lot of people,” he said.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
The first calls from the The Mills at Jersey Gardens came in just after nightfall Monday. Witnesses said they thought they had heard shots fired. That, along with a fight, led to what Elizabeth police Officer Greg Jones described as a “chaotic panic and everybody running all at once.”
Ultimately, though, patrons had mistaken the sound of a chair slammed during a fight for gunfire, city officials told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey. Two people, an 8-year-old and 12-year-old, were injured, the station reported.
Fort Worth, Texas
The security guards had no other choice but to place the Hulen Mall on lockdown. At one point, police told CNN affiliate KTVT, at least 100 people were involved in a series of fights.
Fort Worth Police spokeswoman Tamara Velle said officers initially responded to reported gunfire inside the mall. After breaking up the fights, officers stopped by each store to let people leave while the lockdown remained in effect, KTVT reported.
There were no reported injures or property damage — thanks in large part to local police, Kelle said.
“You keep hearing the horror stories of the mall shootings across the nations right now,” Velle told KTVT. “Anytime we’re hearing about a mall shooting and it’s the day after Christmas, (where) you have tons of people holiday shopping … we’re going to get in there as fast as we can.”