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Nearly 2,000 Teens Riot at Shopping Mall

The Short of It

Riots that involved thousands of teens forced a Kentucky mall to close early on the day after Christmas.

The Lowdown

Dec. 26 is known as one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, as customers flock to stores to return or exchange unwanted Christmas gifts and cash in on gift cards they found under the tree. But for one Louisville, Ky., shopping center, this weekend marked scary riots and shots fired instead of happy holiday browsing.

As many as 2,000 teenagers were reportedly involved in a very chaotic scene at Mall St. Matthews that started around 7:30 p.m. The disturbances not only included fighting and gunfire, but also juvenilles jumping on cars outside the shopping center. The mall and surrounding stores even had to shut down early after the violence escalated and police were called.

Officer Dennis McDonald, spokesman for the St. Matthews Police Department, said, "the disturbances fed off each other." In fact, things got so out of control, more than 50 officers from four police agencies were needed to de-escalate the scene.

No arrests were made. Most of the teenagers involved were said to be between 15 and 19 years old, but also included a large group of middle-schoolers. McDonald commented that many teens involved in the riots at the mall were there without parental supervision; they were dropped off or had taken public transport. In the wake of the upsetting events that took place, he said, "Apparently, there are parents and guardians that have used the mall as a babysitter, and we're not going to tolerate it, and the mall isn't going to tolerate it."

Despite social media having a hand in spreading the word about the incident, police are not under the impression that it was used to coordinate any aspect of the riots ahead of time.

The Upshot

So far, there's no word on whether a curfew will be enforced moving forward or if authorties will enact a ban on teens being at the mall without an adult, although police plan to meet with mall officials to discuss their options. The mall opened as scheduled Sunday with extra security on hand.

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