Reports of shopping mall melees light up social media

December 27, 2016 GMT

A flurry of reports of mall melees and disturbances rippled across social media Monday on a day Americans swarmed shopping hubs for post-holiday bargains.

Disturbances that led to some malls being evacuated included reports from at least seven states - including Elizabeth, N.J.; Fayetteville, N.C.; East Garden City, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Tempe, Ariz.; Beachwood Place, a suburb of Cleveland; and Memphis.

About 10 people were injured during a melee at the Jersey Gardens mall in Elizabeth on Sunday evening, Mayor Chris Bollwage said in a tweet.

The injuries were non-life-threatening, Bollwage said. A fight in the food court led to false reports of a shooting after a chair was thrown and hit the ground loudly, officials said.

Posts on social media showed police with machine guns responding to the food court. Police evacuated the building as a precaution, and hours later there were still long lines waiting for NJ Transit buses as it began to rain.

Sergio Cleto, a tourist from Brazil, was waiting for a bus back to Manhattan. “We saw the kids fighting ... then everyone began to run and everything is a mess after that,” Cleto said.

In Tennessee, Memphis police arrested seven people and had an eighth in custody Monday evening following melees at two malls that sent crowds scurrying and shut down Oak Court Mall early.

A disturbance at the Wolfchase Galleria in Memphis left patrons detained inside stores for a time. Police said six people were arrested at Wolfchase and one more person was in custody.