December 26, 2016, Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Illinois is one of several shopping malls across the country reporting similar incidents of violence afters large groups of teens gathered on Monday evening. Mall Security personnel at Fox Valley Mall management closed the mall due to several fights inside. At least nine malls across the nation experienced fights and disruptions on the day after Christmas, including malls in Colorado, Arizona, Ohio, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
In Manchester, Connecticut, Fox 61 reports a huge fight broke out at the Shoppes at Buckland Hills on Monday evening. Manchester police Capt. Chris Davis posted on his Twitter account that several hundred teenagers were in the mall at the time and there were several fights. He says several people were arrested and the mall was evacuated. Disturbances prompted some malls to evacuate, including Fayetteville, N.C.; East Garden City, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Tempe, Ariz.; and Beachwood Place, a suburb of Cleveland. The Town Center Mall in Aurora, Colorado located on East Alameda Ave, off Interstate 225 closed its doors, but officials said the mall is expected to reopen at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Police say about 500 people were part of the “large disturbance” at Town Center Aurora that broke out around 4:45 p.m. in the food court. More fights erupted at the Century 16 and the RTD Park and Ride lot. One person at the parking lot suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital. It’s unclear what their condition is. Five juveniles were arrested in connection to multiples fights that ultimately led to the evacuation of a mall in Aurora.
Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, N.C., was evacuated after a brawl sent shoppers fleeing, WRAL 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.
Teen loitering and rowdy teens at shopping malls is hardly a new phenomenom. The rowdy teens at the Mall of America in Hennepin County, Minnesota, prompted the nation’s largest shopping mall to enact a controversial teen escort policy. In 1996, Mall of America, located outside of Minneapolis, required teens under 15 to have an adult escort. In 2007, other large shopping venues, such as WestGate Mall in Spartanburg, followed suit, enacting curfews for unsupervised teenagers through a youth escort policy. Under the rule, no one younger than age 18 is allowed in the mall after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays without a parent or guardian who is 18 or older.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, about 50 of estimated 1,100 malls nationwide have enacted a curfew or parental escort policy over the past decade. Shopping malls serve as privately-owned public space that is popular withs teens looking for a place to congregate. Retail store management argue that when teens are unruly, customers feel threatened and avoid the shopping mall — resulting in a loss of revenue.
Law enforcement officials say it is unclear if the string of violent incidents at several malls across the country are related. A motive for the violence has not been established.
Check back for updates as details are made available.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."