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Hundreds of teens storm Cincinnati-area mall, start fights, police say

Shoppers want action; police promise to 'take care of it'
Posted at 8:30 AM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 08:34:39-05

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Hundreds of teens ran wild through Northgate Mall near Cincinnati Thursday night, police said, starting fights and creating a panic among shoppers and workers on the busy first day after Christmas.

"There were kids swinging on the police officers. It just got chaotic," said Jackie Cella, a shopper.

Police started getting calls about 6 p.m. from frightened shoppers and workers who said they were hiding in fear.

Sgt. Jim Love said Colerain Police made several arrests, and more could be coming after the mall had to be shut down and evacuated. The young people also stormed nearby streets.

Investigators believe the teens responded to a Facebook post telling people to come to the mall.

"This was a social-media organized situation," Love said.

Police don't know why it turned violent.

"They were just being aggressive. They were fighting with each other," Love said. "When he tried to stop and talk and deal with them, they were being aggressive toward him. There was hundreds of them in the mall."

"It was chaos - young kids, teenagers," Cella said.

"I immediately thought of a stampede," said another shopper, Maria Hill. "Like, we needed to figure out where the kids were going."

Colerain police had an officer on duty, but that officer was quickly overpowered as teens came through the doors 30 and 40 at a time.

"That's when we started to see the police and realize that something had actually happened," said another shopper, Jovan Moore. "Literally a caravan of kids, probably about 100 students."

The Northgate Mall has a 5 p.m. curfew, but the large crowd was too much to handle. Several surrounding agencies were called in for backup.

The disturbance occurred on the same night that another Cincinnati-area mall, Kenwood Towne Center, started a curfew for teens designed to curb "disruptive behavior by unsupervised youth" during the holiday shopping season's final stretch.

None of the shoppers who talked to Scripps station WCPO in Cincinnati were hurt, but they said something has to change.

"I think we need more resources for our kids," Hill said. "School is out. Parents are dropping off their kids at the mall, leaving them unattended. So, they need more supervision as well as resources."

"Parents, get your children," Cella said. "Get these kids under control. This is chaotic."

Love promised Colerain police would have "a very strong increased presence" at the mall.

"We can assure you this. We will take care of it," Love said.

The Kenwood Towne Center curfew, in effect through Dec. 31, establishes "Parental Guidance Required" hours and prohibits 18-and-unders from walking through the building, parking lots or exterior walkways without a guardian.

Here's when Kenwood's PGR hours are in effect:

• Thursday, Dec. 26, after noon.

• Friday, Dec. 27 after 4 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 28 after 4 p.m.

• Sunday, Dec. 29 after 2 p.m.

• Monday, Dec. 30 after 4 p.m.

• Tuesday, Dec. 31 after 2 p.m.

This story was originally published by Kristen Swilley on WCPO in Cincinnati.