St. Matthews, KY, police say that up to 2,000 juveniles were involved in what’s being termed a “riot” at the Mall St. Mathews. As the young people began to congregate, fights broke out that turned into brawls which spilled over and began other fights.
Around 7 p.m., police started to receive disturbance calls from the Mall St. Mathews regarding “juveniles who were loitering, refusing to leave businesses, fights, those kinds of things,” St. Matthews Police spokesman Dennis McDonald told ABC News today.
McDonald said the department always stations an extra police presence at the mall during the holidays, and there were six officers at the mall Saturday assigned to help mall security.
“As they responded, those calls continued to mount up and they could not handle the volume of calls that they were receiving,” he said.
The incidents involved between 1,000 and 2,000 teens, McDonald said. Calls continued to pour in, so police requested assistance from neighboring agencies.
“When our officers asked for assistance there were about 50 officers there,” McDonald said. “Their sole focus at that point was getting them to disperse.
“A lot of the juveniles were being confrontational,” he continued. “Officers were being cussed at, yelled at, harassed.”
There were no arrests, McDonald said, saying officers were solely focused on “restoring order.” A few minor injuries were reported, he said, as a result of people “running” and “shoving.”
Management eventually decided to close the entire mall early, The Associated Press said.
Mall St. Mathews has over 100 stores, as well as restaurants and a movie theater, according to its website. McDonald called it “probably the largest mall in Kentucky.”
Mall security told ABC News today the shopping center reopened at 11 a.m. Mall security did not provide any further information. The management officer could not be immediately reached for comment.
This incident sounds like a flash-mob scenario. Why else would more than 1000 kids show up at the same place at basically the same time?
As for the race of the perpetrators, the news report below makes it impossible to tell.
When police suggested that the mall close, business owners tried to comply but were stopped by the kids:
About 8 p.m., authorities started to advise stores in the mall to close their doors, but those involved in the brawls were refusing to leave. “Businesses were in the process of closing their doors, steel grates, and you had juveniles that were not allowing businesses to close up — [they were] climbing on the grates,” McDonald said.
“This was a riot,” McDonald added. “It was crazy.”
Police received reports of shots fired within and outside the mall, but investigators haven’t confirmed those reports, McDonald said.
Restaurants and shops surrounding the mall also closed their doors as the teens and young adults flooded out, McDonald said.
“It took about an hour and a half, close to two hours, before things were calm,” McDonald said. Officers “maintained a presence” until 1 a.m., McDonald said, adding: “We’re all tired.”
But no one was arrested, and only minor injuries were reported, McDonald said. No officers were injured.
The incident hardly seems “unplanned” as the police spokesman says. But the mentality of the mob can never be underestimated, so chalking the violence up to mob groupthink is not unreasonable.