Reports of mall disturbances light up social media Featured

Reports of mall disturbances light up social media

Susan Miller , USA TODAY 10:16 p.m. EST December 26, 2016
People wait in line for NJ Transit buses after the Jersey Gardens Mall was evacuated on one of the busiest days of the year after a fight broke out Dec. 26, 2016.
(Photo: Kevin R. Wexler,, via USA TODAY Network)
A flurry of reports of mall melees and disturbances rippled across social media Monday on a day Americans swarmed shopping hubs for post-holiday bargains.

Disturbances that led to some malls being evacuated included reports from Elizabeth, N.J.; Fayetteville, N.C.; East Garden City, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Tempe, Ariz.; Beachwood Place, a suburb of Cleveland; and Memphis.

About 10 people were injured during a melee at the Jersey Gardens mall in Elizabeth on Sunday evening, Mayor Chris Bollwage said in a tweet.

The injuries were non-life-threatening, Bollwage said. A fight in the food court led to false reports of a shooting after a chair was thrown and hit the ground loudly, officials said.

Posts on social media showed police with machine guns responding to the food court. Police evacuated the building as a precaution, and hours later there were still long lines waiting for NJ Transit buses as it began to rain.

Sergio Cleto, a tourist from Brazil, was waiting for a bus back to Manhattan. "We saw the kids fighting ... then everyone began to run and everything is a mess after that," Cleto said.

In Tennessee, police in Memphis shut down Oak Court Mall on Monday evening aft

er an altercation involving multiple youths in the food court area. It was one of two mall disturbances Monday evening, following on the heels of an altercation quelled by police at Wolfchase Galleria.

MPD officers block off the entrances to the Oak Court
MPD officers block off the entrances to the Oak Court Mall Monday night after a disturbance in the food court sent patrons into a panic. (Photo: Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal)
Police on the scene at Oak Court were not immediately available for comment, but witnesses who were told to leave the East Memphis mall said it began with a dispute between a boy and a girl and quickly escalated to involve others.

Rakelia Wilkinson said at least one other girl intervened after a fight broke out between the first girl and her male companion. She said there was talk on social media of disturbances that may have extended to other places as well.

At Wolfchase, MPD spokesman Louis Brownlee said a large group of people started a disturbance inside the mall, also near the food court, about 6:30 p.m.

"Some patrons began calling 911 reporting shots fired, " Brownlee said. "There were several officers already on the scene and advised no shots were fired, and no injuries have been reported."

In North Carolina, Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville was evacuated after a brawl sent shoppers fleeing, WRAL-TV in Raleigh reported. Authorities said a confrontation broke out between teens in the mall food court at about 4:40 p.m. and quickly escalated, the station said. Fayetteville Police tweeted that there were unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, and the mall, not police, made the decision to evacuate. There were no shooting victims or property damage, according to police. 

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