Fights Break Out at Malls Across U.S.A.: Are These Violent Eruptions Being Orchestrated?

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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.

Some of the mayhem was captured on social media. The chaos prevented some shoppers from grabbing clothes off clearance racks and returning gifts.

The mall incidents, which ranged from minor melees to mass evacuations, occurred from Colorado to Tennessee and Texas to New Jersey.

Police in some cities are investigating the role social media may have played in organizing the disturbances. The motive behind the mall brawls is not yet known.

Here’s what happened at nine of those malls.

Aurora, Colorado

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.

Aurora, Illinois

In Aurora, Illinois, eight juveniles, ranging in age from 13 to 17, have been charged in connection with the large disturbances at Fox Valley Mall, police said in a statement released Tuesday. The teens were taking into custody Monday evening after police received a call for assistance at the shopping center”due to an unruly crowd in the common area,” police said.

“All of the charges lodged are misdemeanors, however, police are not ruling out enhancing them to felonies,” the statement said. More arrests are possible, police said.

Moments after the call, a fight broke out in the food court area and those were followed by several other smaller altercations, the Aurora police said.

The brawl forced evacuations and the mall closed. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Memphis, Tennessee

In Memphis, seven people were arrested after incidents at two malls, CNN affiliate WMC reported.

Police said a group started a disturbance in the Wolfchase Galleria food court and started running, which prompted some customers to call 911, WMC said.

Then a crowd gathered outside Oak Court Mall, about 10 miles west, and started a disturbance, WMC said. Both malls were cleared and closed early for the night.

Shots were reported in both incidents, but police said they found no evidence of gunfire, WMC said.

No injuries were reported, CNN affiliate WATN said.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Loud sounds kicked off a wave of panic at Hamilton Place Mall, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Several people were pushed to the ground as shoppers rushed to exit the mall, police said.

Officers rushed to the scene after receiving reports of “shots fired,” but the sounds turned out to be fireworks.

“Our investigation concluded that it was perpetrated a group of individuals who were setting off fireworks, possibly to coverup the actions of a shoplifting crime,” the Chattanooga Police Department said in a statement.

Minor injuries were reported after the incident.

Police have descriptions of the suspects involved in this incident and video footage, the statement said.

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SOURCE: Sara Sidner, Azadeh Ansari and Max Blau
CNN