Teens shut down mall in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday night after a string of unruly disturbances. About 2,000 teens were fighting and created mayhem at the Mall St. Matthews shopping center as it was filled with post-Christmas shoppers, according to LEX 18.
The Louisville mall unruly disturbances kept the shopping center closed until Sunday when it reopened with extra security, a day after closing early when throngs of unruly teens caused disturbances. The area was shut down after shoppers said there were shots fired, but there has been no confirmation of the shots and no injuries or arrests.
There were between 40 to 50 officers from various local law enforcement agencies on scene, surrounding the entire mall and trying to break up the large group of young people. Officers from four police agencies responded to numerous reports of fights, harassment of customers and store employees and other disturbances at the shopping center, said Officer Dennis McDonald, a spokesman for suburban St. Matthews police.
Before the teens shut down the mall, police responded at around 7 p.m. in response to numerous unruly youths. According to the SMPD there were several fights inside the Mall St. Matthews shopping center and they may have spread outside. When the disturbances began some store owners attempted to close, but some patrons refused to leave. Finally, management decided to shut down the entire mall early.
Several law enforcement agencies converged on the property during the Louisville mall unruly disturbances along with K-9s and a helicopter. Things began to settle down around 9:30 p.m. McDonald said it was tough to make any arrests, because officers were too busy breaking up the large group of disorderly young people.
At the height of the problems Saturday night, about 50 police officers responded to disturbances, McDonald said. As the Mall St. Matthews shopping center closed early at about 8 p.m. EST Saturday, teens tried to prevent some businesses from shutting their doors, he said.
“I don’t believe this was organized, I believe this was random. I believe this was a by-product of juveniles congregating and there being some disturbances growing out of that. Fights if you will. Those kind of things and escalating out of control. As quick as we would get there, they would disperse move to another location and what we’ve tried to do is just to keep them moving,” McDonald said.
The popular mall reopened Sunday with added police presence, he said. There were no reports of problems by early afternoon, he said.
St. Matthews police and mall security were assisted by Jeffersontown and Louisville Metro police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The disturbances were caused mostly by unsupervised young people ranging from their early to late teens, McDonald said. Many of them apparently were dropped off or took public transportation to get to the mall, he said.
“We started heading toward the exit and we saw larger numbers of teenagers and they started kind of running and congregating in one area, and then all the police, all the security started running in that direction and then we decided it’s time to head the other direction,” one eyewitness, Chuck Hibbs, said.
The mayhem spilled into the mall parking lot and prompted some other nearby businesses and restaurants to close early, McDonald said. It appeared teens used social media as the Louisville mall unruly disturbances continued, he said.
“We think they were communicating using social media,” he said. “They would disperse and then all of a sudden there would be another group congregating at another location.”
There were no immediate signs the entire incident was coordinated, but it was something police were looking into as part of the investigation, he said.
This is the second recent incident of teens shutting down a mall in Louisville. In late November on Thanksgiving evening, two young men were filmed engaged in a violent brawl in the food court.