Chaos broke out at Mall of America on Monday. Photo: Owen Rudge
A group of teenagers estimated at over 200 caused pandemonium Monday night during post-holiday shopping at one of the world’s largest shopping malls.
Shoppers looking to return unwanted Christmas gifts at Minnesota’s Mall of America became unwillingly involved in a disturbance that began at one of the mall’s food courts at 4:20 in the afternoon, and escalated to the point where a mob scene was created that spilled out through other areas of the mall.
Witnesses told the Star Tribune that the group seemed to be a “flash mob” set on looting the mall, with reports of shoppers being pushed around and items being grabbed, but Bloomington police said they had not received any reports of merchandise being stolen.
Police did verify, however, that some of the groups involved in the fighting were as large as 100 people, and that they had arrested almost a dozen juveniles on suspicion of disorderly conduct.
Many of the mall stores decided to close for the rest of the evening after the incident.
One witness told a reporter that there was a “scary hum in the mall,” adding that it was a “harrowing experience” for herself, her mother, and her young daughter.
Reuters reports that Mall of America is beefing up security on Tuesday.
Mall spokesman Dan Jasper said, “As a preventive measure we will ramp up security even more this week to make sure [the fighting] doesn’t happen again.”
Security at Mall of America came under fire earlier this year, when a report by NPR’s All Things Considered program on its possibly overzealous counterterrorism efforts, such as detaining one man for over two hours because he was taking video footage inside the mall.
Another man said he was approached by Mall of America security and accused of “conducting surveillance” because he was jotting down notes on a note pad. Najam Qureshi, who was born in Pakistan, claims that his father was turned over to the FBI by mall security simply because he had forgotten his cell phone at the food court.
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