Beachwood mall disturbance involved more than 500 people; pepper spray was used

Posted at 7:25 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 16:38:36-05

More than 500 people were involved in the Beachwood Place Mall incident Monday, causing several stores to close the day after Christmas and on one of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season. 

Beachwood police Captain Gary Haba said between 500 to 600 were involved in the "disturbance" as they ran around the two-story mall to "cause mayhem."

“We just cut the lights off and just got behind a desk. I’m like I don’t know what’s going on and they’re still running, just running," said mall employee, PJay Griffin.

The motive isn't clear, but Haba said it appears the group of people wanted to disrupt shopping activities. 

Police were called to the mall at 6:30 p.m. after a large group of juveniles caused a disturbance inside the mall.

Videos posted to social media during the incident showed people running through the mall screaming. Others stood still and watched. 

Monday's incident was one of many disturbances that erupted across malls in the nation. Similar incidents were reported at malls across the country Monday evening. A mall in Tempe, Ariz. was placed on lockdown around the same time. Police determined no shots were fired after witnesses said they heard a loud noise during an altercation there. In Aurora, Colo. police evacuated a mall due to a large disturbance. The Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, N.C. was also evacuated after a fight broke out. 

Beachwood police and mall security officers dispersed the crowd and removed them from the mall. Officers from nearby jurisdictions also responded to assist. No injuries were reported.

“When you see just a mass, a crowd of people running towards you, you just don’t know what’s going on, you just want to try and get to safety," said Griffin.

Haba said mall security and one Beachwood officer used pepper spray because the crowd was not complying with authorities. 

The incident was "loosely organized on social media," as people announced they were headed to the mall, but did not explicit plan or request others to show up, Haba said. 

Police said there was a report of a gun being fired but an investigation revealed that report was unfounded. 

One juvenile was arrested for allegedly attempting to strike an officer that was dealing with another disorderly person.

The mall closed for a short time but reopened later.

One person was transported by medical personnel from the scene but police said it was due to an illness, not related to the disturbance.

The video in the media player above was tweeted by Twitter user @_samiiiiii.