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Violence strikes malls across U.S. on day after Christmas

By
Stephen Feller

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Several groups of teens in the United States took Boxing Day, a holiday that has nothing to do with boxing, somewhat literally on Monday, getting into fights and causing disturbances at roughly a dozen malls across the country.

Police reported teenagers at several malls across the United States, from Arizona to North Carolina, started fights that grew to include several people and drew hundreds of spectators in some cases, causing several malls to be closed.

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Officials noted several of the melees were similar -- a few started with someone yelling "gun" before teens stampeded to some location and started fighting -- and suggested at least a few were organized on social media.

In Beachwood, Ohio, near Cleveland, officers said a disturbance among "sizable groups of juveniles" appeared to have been "loosely" pulled together on social media, as were several skirmishes at malls in Aurora, Colo., Fort Worth, Texas, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina.

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In Elizabeth, N.J., and Memphis, Tenn., police reported someone yelled "gun" before teens ran through the mall engaging in fights and violence, with some at both malls, and one in Fayetteville, N.C., calling 911 to report shots had been fired, though that turned out not to be the case.

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In Chattanooga, Tenn., fireworks were set off inside a mall to distract from a shoplifting operation, injuring three people and scaring the rest of the people inside the mall.

The crowd of fighting teens in Beachwood was dispersed by police using pepper spray. Nobody was hurt, but at least one teen was arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer.

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For the most part, police in all the cities said there were no injuries or danger, and malls that were temporarily evacuated or closed are expected to be reopened, but that they were investigating whether the chaotic scenes were spontaneous or somehow organized online ahead of time

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