Police investigate fights inside Monroeville Mall
MONROEVILLE, Pa. - Police are investigating several fights that broke out inside Monroeville Mall, forcing it to close early Friday.
Police said approximately 1,000 teens were involved in as many as six or more fights between 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Christine Smatlak, of Indiana County, was in the mall with her daughter, who was celebrating her 14th birthday.
Smatlak said a fight broke out just a few feet from where they were checking out.
"She was scared, as adults we were scared," Smatlak said. "You could just hear the yelling, screaming. You could see kids jumping, kicking someone else."
Word of the fights spread quickly on social media.
Smatlak said not only was she concerned, but employees inside the store were also worried and were calling for help.
"It was a very long time before, I don't even think I saw security, there was other kids helping the kid because he was bleeding," Smatlak said.
Management decided to close the mall shortly before 9 p.m. due to the fights.
Smetlak said she was doing everything she could to leave the mall.
"We were actually strategically planning how to get out of the mall, what's the safest way to get out of the mall, out of here, what do we do if something does happen before we get out of here?" Smetlak said.
"The fights de-escalated initially. They did notice the mall had an influx of many juveniles, probably as many as 1,000 is the estimate, that were congregating here at the mall on this nice Friday evening ..." said Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole. "That continued to cause more issues in the mall itself with groups moving through the mall. It appeared to be no type of a protest, just that there were many juveniles and I mean the age category of 19 or 20 years of age."
PHOTOS FROM THE MALL: View photo gallery
As one fight ended, another one began to heat up. A second batch of fights caused the Monroeville Police Department to request assistance from Allegheny County, Pitcairn, Trafford, Wilkins Township and Churchill police departments. Port Authority was notified to send extra buses to get people home.
The initial investigation shows a social media push for kids to come to the mall.
Two people from two different fights were taken to Forbes Hospital for unknown injuries.
No arrests have been made at this time. Police hope to make them as soon as they review video and speak with witnesses.
Initial damage report shows a kiosk has minor damage due to teens running into it.
Viewers and mall shoppers sent Pittsburgh's Action News 4 photos and video of the fights.
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