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Not-So-Silent Night: Mall Flash Mobs, Fights Break Out in Several States the Day After Christmas


"This was a riot. It was crazy."

The first night following Christmas 2015 was apparently prime time for flash mobs and fights, which broke out in malls from New Jersey to Kentucky.

A group of 500 — mostly juveniles — descended upon New Jersey's Deptford Mall Saturday night, possibly as a result of a flash mob organized on social media, according to NJ.com.

Though that theory has not yet been confirmed by local law enforcement, several tweets discussing whether to go to the Cherry Hill or Deptford mall suggest there may have been some planning involved.

That trend continued in Virginia with a mob of around 200 teenagers. A fight broke out in Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News, which resulted in one 17-year-old female getting punched in the face, according to WAVY-TV.

The biggest mob, however, was in Kentucky's Mall St. Matthews, one of the state's largest malls.

A brawl involving up to 2,000 erupted there Saturday night, after which the entire mall was shut down and several surrounding stores closed their doors.

The hours-long flash mob started at 7 p.m. when six police officers assigned to Mall St. Matthews responded to "disturbances" at the shopping complex, Officer Dennis McDonald told NBC News.

"As they were responding to those disturbances, others were breaking out. ... Disturbances started to feed on themselves," McDonald said. "They were just overwhelmed with a number of calls for service and reports of disorder."

McDonald said there were a "series of brawls" involving 1,000 to 2,000 people ranging in ages from 13 to early 20s. In total, 50 officers from five different stations were dispatched to the mall.

At around 8 p.m. — one hour into the brawl — McDonald advised stores to close their doors because those involved in the fights 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. It was crazy."

There were reports of shots fired, but none have been confirmed yet by police. It took nearly two hours before things were "calm" and that officers "maintained a presence" until 1 a.m. McDonald said no one was arrested and only minor injuries were reported, adding that no officers were hurt.

"Our officers, they showed great restraint," McDonald said. "Officers were focused on dispersing crowds and keeping them moving."

McDonald said it's not yet clear what ultimately lead to the flash mob, but police do not believe it was planned.

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