Vinnie Penn, LifeZette, December 27, 2016
Talk about taking the whole flash mob concept to the next level. Brawls — mostly involving teens — broke out at various malls across the country on Monday evening. It’s not yet known if these were connected, but the timing is curious.
In Connecticut, fights broke out at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester. Several hundred teens were involved in various fights, which led to the mall’s evacuation and closure for the evening. An incident involving eight to 10 people began near the food court, leaving one police officer with minor injuries.
Later in the evening, a verbal altercation involving several teens broke out at Westfarms Mall, just outside West Hartford. That one got shut down before fists could fly.
Manchester Police Capt. Chris Davis confirmed that several people have already been arrested and also said authorities were still trying to sort out what happened.
As for Aurora, Illinois, the Fox Valley Mall was also forced to close Monday night at just about the same time, after a brawl broke out involving dozens of people. Police Lt. Rick Robertson said roughly 1,000 teens congregated in the mall, some running from section to section.
“When bottles began flying from the upper levels, officials decided to close the mall to prevent a large brawl,” he said. “It was a lot of kids and a couple of scuffles, and just for everyone’s safety it was best to get everyone moving along before one large incident occurred,” he added.
One police sergeant was punched in the face, Robertson said, but he was unaware of any other injuries Monday night.
Robertson said that he, too, could not speculate on a motive for the Fox Valley Mall gathering or fights, and he had no indication beforehand that fights might occur.
In New Jersey, things were a bit scarier. Eight to 10 people suffered minor injuries during a similar melee in the food court at The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the mayor there said via Twitter.
Also on the “mall mayhem” roster:
The Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina: Police fielded several unconfirmed reports of shots fired, according to a Facebook post by the Fayetteville Police Department, which also said the mall was evacuated.
The Hulen Mall in Fort Worth, Texas: The mall was on lockdown, Fort Worth police said on Twitter. The local CBS website reported that police said officers responded to reports of gunshots but arrived to find that several fights had broken out involving 100 to 150 people.
The Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania: Police arrested four youths after fights broke out at this mall, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Arizona: Police put the mall on lockdown after reports of shots fired inside the shopping center.
At the Beachwood Place Mall in Beachwood, Ohio: Police arrested one juvenile at this mall, where a large disturbance occurred, an ABC affiliate in Cleveland reported. Cleveland police officers said the incident appeared to have been “loosely organized on social media.”
While this could be choreographed mayhem, a social media call to action — police may yet find another motive altogether. It is too early to say definitively.