INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Metropolitan police were called to Castleton Square Mall Monday night, where several juveniles were arrested after at least two fights broke out.
Officers were dispatched there around 7:42 p.m. to disperse a crowd of juveniles.
Officers immediately began moving the crowd away from the mall and supervisors requested the assistance of the Event Response Group (ERG) for additional crowd control and officer presence. Seven juvenile females and one juvenile male were arrested as a result. They face battery and resisting arrest charges.
IMPD requested that parents come get their children. Police asked that parents do not leave their children unattended at large events and plan to have a chaperone to help prevent such disturbances from breaking out.
"Maybe we should think about these kids being more closely supervised by their parents because the city and Simon Mall and the stores in here spend a lot of money watching over these kids and special events like that and it’s unfortunate," said Chris Bailey with IMPD.
IMPD said off-duty officers were at the mall providing security.
"They had multiple fights and a couple different resisters and they were all tied up and there were several hundred kids inside the mall running around and there were a couple other skirmishes inside the mall, so they needed assistance so on-duty officers responded and helped and within a matter of minutes, everything was under control back at the mall," Bailey said.
Police say they received reports of shots fired in the area, but no one was reported shot.
"A witness came up to one of the officers to say that she saw an unidentified black male fire off four shots in the parking lot, not at anyone, but maybe in the air and one of the officers heard those shots, but we recovered no evidence and the witness didn't stick around for us to try to identify anybody," Bailey said.
Bailey said it wasn't clear what led to the fights but believed those involved may have had some type of feud. While several hundred kids were at the mall, only a handful--maybe 10 to 12--were causing problems. Bailey noted that unseasonably warm weather and winter break meant there were more teens at the mall than usual.
"The mall was well prepared. Simon’s spent millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements here including cameras, there’s an intelligence center, we have a substation inside the mall now so, them and our holiday helper plan was in place all the time leading up to today, there was plenty of security here but it still didn’t stop some of these kids from doing what they’re gonna do," Bailey said. "It boils down to there’s a lot of teenagers and a lot of people in general that just have no respect for anything. They don’t’ have respect for themselves, they don’t’ have respect for one another, and traditional institutions, so it doesn’t matter whether it was 200 people here or not, some folks are still going to do things that they shouldn’t do."
Simon Property Group, which operates Castleton Square Mall, released the following statement about the incident:
"Safety is our first priority. When yesterday evening's fight involving unescorted youths broke out, members of our security team and off duty IMPD hired by the mall immediately intervened and stopped the activity. Arrests were then made and business returned to normal. Castleton Square Mall has a long-standing Code of Conduct that prohibits disruptive behavior, and that policy is strictly enforced. We want to thank IMPD's continued efforts to maintain a safe environment for our shoppers and employees."
IMPD provided an update following the arrests:
More than a dozen malls across the country reported similar crowds of teens fighting, leading to multiple arrests. A mall in Aurora, Colorado was evacuated. Hundreds of teens were caught on camera fighting in Manchester, Connecticut. Other incidents played out in Memphis, Tenn., Fayetteville, N.C., Elizabeth, N.J. and Fort Worth, Texas.
It remains unclear if these incidents are connected in some way.