ORANGE VILLAGE, Ohio — Police used forceful, non-lethal measures to disperse a crowd of 800 to 1,000 juveniles at Pinecrest in Orange Village on Thursday night.
"It was younger kids because they — none of them looked to be over the age of 16," Ronika Robinson said. She was there eating dinner with her husband when she saw the crowds.
The crowd had gathered during a free movie hosted by the Cleveland Monsters. Logan Andress was at the shopping center to watch the movie and saw the first and second wave of people show up.
"The first time I went toward it," he said. "The second time, I'm not going to lie, I was frustrated. I was fed up. I was worried about my son."
Andress and his family left before the larger crowd arrived.
"We just made the choice. We're done. We're done," he said.
Multiple fights occurred, and seven juveniles were arrested and then turned over to a parent, officials said.
Police said they deployed pepper spray, K-9s, pepper balls and used sirens to disperse the crowd. According to police, no shots were fired despite "rumors to the contrary."
Large disturbance in the area of Pinecrest late Thursday. Officer on scene told me it was the result of a couple hundred kids at the Silverspot Cinema. Police from all over the area were on scene. Large scale search for evidence. More info likely released later today. pic.twitter.com/TtsRKLQk8H— Mike Vielhaber (@MVielhaber) June 18, 2021
One video on Instagram from the Clevelandrememberance.page account shows an officer deploying pepper spray then using his body to break up a fight. One of the people fighting fell to the ground but got up.
Warning: Video below contains profanity and potentially disturbing images. Viewer discretion advised.
News 5 showed this video to Lt. Mike Roberts with the Orange Village Police Department. After watching and speaking to supervisors in the department, Roberts said "What I saw in the video - and it was small - was an officer body blocking two people engaged in fighting and it did stop the assault from occurring."
Police also said that no one sought medical attention and no property damage was observed or reported.
Robinson also saw police use non-lethal force on the crowd before deciding to leave.
"I was just kind of happy that we did a stay and we left what we did," she said.
All of this frustrates Andress and Robinson.
"It was the first time that I'd ever seen -- even walking in -- like that number of people there," Andress said. "Looking back, that was probably a sign that it wasn't going to be a good night for us just with that many people there as it was.
"So I just want our kids to be safer and I want them to be smarter and just make smarter decisions when they go out, when they're hanging with their friends," Robinson said. "In the climate that we're in today, especially with young teenage and young Black kids, I just want them to be more safe and more aware."
The shopping center has a policy that says children under the age of 18 must have a parent with them. News 5 reached out to the owners but never heard back.
Andress reached out too.
"I sent a photo of my son to the management at Pinecrest, basically pleading with them to -- to do better ... They had an opportunity to take action that they did not and that that was exceptionally frustrating to me," he said. "I think they're -- they're probably, you know, hiding a little bit right now, trying to fit in, trying to figure out what happened."Both Andress and Robinson said teenagers need a safe place to go but should not always be left unsupervised.
"The Orange Village Police Department believes this incident was fueled virally by social media," authorities said.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call the department at 440-247-7321.
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