INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- An Indianapolis mother says her family was caught in the mall brawl mayhem at Castleton Square Mall while out shopping Monday night.
She says she, her husband and her youngest kids were going to see a movie while her teenagers spent their Christmas money on day-after-Christmas clearance sales.
Instead, she says they were shocked to find hundreds and hundreds of kids at the mall, mostly unsupervised.
“The food court was completely packed,” Harris said. “Probably only a hundred of those kids were supervised. It was ridiculous.”
Harris says the number of preteens and teens on their own in one place was a ticking time bomb.
Harris believes parents should shoulder a good deal of the blame for creating the situation. She says if parents had walked inside to see what environment they were dropping their kids off to, they might have reconsidered as she did.
She was still there when several fights broke out across the mall. Police then arrested seven juveniles—six female and one male—for their involvement in the fights.
“I have never been more fearful as a parent than I was last night,” said Harris.
IMPD confirmed there were several hundred juveniles inside Castleton when they arrived. They restored order by making everyone 18 and under leave and find a ride home.
Harris believes that was too late on the mall’s part.
“There was security coming from everywhere, but where were you guys when they were coming in?” questioned Harris.
Castleton wasn’t the only mall in America dealing with this issue Monday night.
At least a dozen malls in nine different states separated or arrested juveniles for similar situations. Investigators in some of those cities are checking if social media played a role.
For now, IMPD maintains there’s no evidence the fights here were connected to the others.
Harris believes the cause in each case was likely lax security.
“The gas stations won’t even let two teenagers in,” said Harris. “They only let two in at a time and then if you’re under a certain age, you have to be accompanied by an adult, so why are the malls not doing the same thing?”
Castleton officials sent a statement saying, “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."
Harris says her daughter’s friend’s injuries are proof their policy isn’t good enough.
“What is it going to take for them to realize that something is going to have to give?” asked Harris. “They say there were nine IMPD officers and mall security there? Well, where were they at when all these kids were entering the building with no adult supervision?”
After multiple follow-ups with Castleton, they declined to answer any specific questions about possible changes to their security policy moving forward.