Hundreds of teens run streets after fights, police say trouble started at hookah lounge party

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 19:11:49-05

Visitors to Akron's downtown entertainment district were frightened after hundreds of teenagers started running through the streets Friday night and several fights broke out near the intersection of South Main and East Exchange Streets.

"I saw about 250 to 300 kids pile out, At first, honestly I was worried. I thought maybe there was a gunshot or something," said Trevor McGuire, a server at Bricco restaurant. "There was just kids everywhere... There was some kids on the ground fighting each other."

Lt. Rick Edwards said the trouble started at Clouds Hookah Lounge which was hosting a teen party.

Police said a fight broke out around 9:40 p.m. inside the lounge and then hundreds of teens spilled into the streets, which caused chaos.

Sixteen police cars responded to the scene and officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Three people were arrested, one adult and two juveniles.

"Customers were a little concerned and obviously I don't know how it will impact our future business," McGuire said.

A city-owned camera captured video of the teens running and another video posted on Facebook showed several cruisers at the scene.

On the Facebook video a man can be heard saying, "Mayor Horrigan and city council, you've got your work cut out for you."

The owner of the lounge, Moe Abd, told News 5 there were not any fights inside the business and he has video to prove it. However, he did not release it on Monday.

Abd also stressed that no alcohol was served the party and that no hookahs - which are smoking devices - were used.

Akron Police Chief James Nice said a meeting between police and fire took place first thing Monday morning to discuss concerns about the disturbance.

Nice said a new plan was in place to monitor the hookah lounge and that city officials were making sure that occupancy codes weren't violated.

"We're going to pay attention to the zoning issues and the Ohio Revised Code issues and we believe some of the things they're doing are not within code, and so we're going to hold the owner of the bar responsible for staying up to code," Nice said.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan declined to comment on the disturbance and referred questions to police.